Secret trial slashes police numbers and risks tragedy.IVY WISE August 28, 2014 8:51am
A trial roster means only four police are available to cover the Campaspe region for up to eight hours a day.
That means emergency calls in outlying towns will be forced to wait 30 minutes — or longer — depending on where operational units are.
One frustrated officer has spoken out, telling the Riv the increasing demands and strain on understaffed shifts have set the scene for a tragedy.
The officer, who asked to be unnamed, says the roster, which has been quietly introduced without any public consultation or awareness, sees Echuca police station covering the Campaspe police service area when Kyabram, Rochester and Rushworth officers are not on duty, usually between 11pm and 7am.
‘‘Residents who live in those areas should be very concerned about the time it’ll take for officers from Echuca to respond to jobs,’’ the officer said.
‘‘These are also the times the highway patrol officers don’t work.
‘‘This will leave just four officers to look after the whole of Campaspe.’’
He said getting rid of on-call staff in these areas put extra strain on the already under-resourced Echuca station.
And the lack of on-call officers in the region will put extra strain on Echuca staff and further risk public safety.
The police strategy is being based on data analysis of historical demand for after-hours police in small towns surrounding Echuca.
Campaspe acting Inspector Tim Edgeworth said the new roster, which comes into effect after 2pm on Fridays and Saturdays, was being trialled after data revealed on-call officers in the small towns were not needed.
‘‘The call-outs for jobs in places like Kyabram did not justify having someone permanently available,’’ he said.
‘‘If there are jobs during that time, those jobs would be triaged by the Sergeant at Echuca who, depending on priority, will send an Echuca unit.’’
Insp. Edgeworth said with no way of predicting when police would be needed, staff had to be rostered and tasked accordingly.
‘‘We can also draw on resources from other areas, such as Bendigo, which is an hour away,’’ he said.
However, the police officer said this was not good enough.
He told the Riv Campaspe needed at least 10 more police, particularly with the district population increasing and the peak tourist season approaching.
‘‘The Echuca area has one patrol unit for a local population of about 12,000-plus — when it’s not already tied-up,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s very common to only have one patrol unit, except for Friday and Saturday nights when there’s two, which is not acceptable.’’
The officer said at Echuca police station alone, which has about 48 officers, about 20 per cent of those were currently off sick or on restricted duties.
‘‘Combine this with about 20 per cent more on leave at any given time and it equals 40 per cent of the frontline uniform officers,’’ he said.
But Insp. Edgeworth was confident the station was adequately staffed.
‘‘In the past 12 months we’ve gained an extra sergeant, an extra senior constable and an extra constable at Echuca and Kyabram,’’ he said.
‘‘The data, and the number of jobs we attend, would not support 10 extra members.’’
However he did say police management would listen to concerns from members about the new roster, which would be reviewed in the next couple of months.
When Sam Atukorala addresses his children in his mother tongue of Sinhalese, they understand him completely, but they always reply in English.
Mulwala’s own motor racing sensation Steve ‘Harro’ Harrison has won the 2014 Victorian Super Tin Tops Championship.
St Augustines College, Kyabram, has won the inaugural School’s Sustainability Cup for 2014, beating several Melbourne schools.
The Shire of Campaspe is concerned as to the incomplete reporting of Port of Echuca property matters.
Four people, including a father and his two children, were fined more than $18,000 for their role in an alcohol-fuelled brawl at a Lockington party earlier this year which ended in a teenager beaten up and forced into a dog cage.
New faces for Girgarre FNC
A time to include late loved ones in the spirit of the season.
Firefighters were able to save a Finley property's buildings after a large stack of hay bales went up in flames on Monday.
Eppalock Primary School has gone global.
Scout Group hopes to raise funds for World Scout Jamboree through novel 24-hour endurance test.
Forest tour only way to understand impact.
Fodder depots have been set up in Euroa and Thoona for farmers hit by the recent fires.
The rail tracks are in such disrepear V/Line is having to close the buffet car between Euroa and Seymour due to health and safety concerns to hospitality staff.
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.