Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Is your safety worth $44?

Police Association slams secret roster trial.

September 3, 2014 2:25pm

Rochester, Kyabram and Rushworth are being put at risk for the sake of $43.60 a night, the Victoria Police Association said.

Secretary Ron Iddles has slammed a new roster trial which sees those towns without immediate police support for up to eight hours a day.

All three, plus Echuca, have just four officers from Echuca to cover the Campaspe region for those eight hours.

Victoria Police has said the reduced hours would allow police more time on the beat, but Detective Senior Sergeant Iddles believed it was more about saving money by not paying officers on call rates.

‘‘If an officer at Rochester works an afternoon shift and finishes at 10pm, they are paid $5.45 an hour to be available (overnight) if needed,’’ he said.

‘‘Surely community safety is worth far more than ($43.60 a night)?

‘‘To leave Kyabram, Rushworth and Rochester without police during the night is absurd.’’

The new roster means emergency calls in outlying towns will be forced to wait at least 30 minutes depending on where operational units are, which Det. Sen. Sgt Iddles said would put police and the community at risk.

‘‘Something will happen,’’ he said.

‘‘There will be a serious incident before this shortage is highlighted.’’

Police have relied on computer aided dispatch data for the trial, which showed there were few jobs in the towns during the hours cut.

However, Det. Sen. Sgt Iddles said the data was historic.

‘‘You can’t tell me what’s going to happen in the town tomorrow,’’ he said.

‘‘If there is an incident in Rochester at 2am and the unit at Echuca is tied up with a family violence matter, where does the help come from?

‘‘They say a Bendigo unit can be called, but they may not be free.

‘‘It’s just not good enough.’’

Det. Sen. Sgt Iddles said the Echuca divisional van often had to transport mental health patients to Bendigo hospital, leaving towns unattended for up to two hours at a time.

‘‘There needs to be sufficient police to meet community needs,’’ he said.

‘‘We have got to go back to the situation where we pay members for their availability.’’

He encouraged members and the community to voice their concerns to their local member.

‘‘Political pressure must be brought to bear,’’ he said.

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