THE row over public access to the new Somerville police complex continues, with Opposition Police Spokesman Ed O’Donohue saying original ground floor drawings for the station “clearly show a front counter and rooms for interviews”.
He says comments by Detective Senior Sergeant Nick Vallas (The News, 17/11/2015) that the Somerville station was “never designed to be staffed by uniform police” are incorrect.
Ground floor drawings of the station “clearly show the front counter and rooms for interviews”, Mr O’Donohue said.
A letter from then Chief Commissioner Ken Lay to former Police Minister Kim Wells, in October 2014, says the station would be “open 16 hours a day”.
Mr O’Donohue says an email from the VicPol manager for capital works outlining the functions of the station supports this view: “I can assure you the new Somerville police station will not be an office block but, rather, it will contain all the generic elements of every 24-hour police station, including a public foyer, reception counter and private consultation rooms …” it stated.
“And, an email from the then Chief Commissioner’s chief of staff to the then-minister’s chief of staff [also] outlines the functions to be performed from Somerville. [It] includes a range of normal functions [that would be] undertaken from a standard operational police station,” he says.
The email says there “will be uniform police working in the station to handle inquiries, [with] shifts and times … determined by the regional assistant commissioner in consultation with the divisional management team based on demand data”.
Mr O’Donohue says reference to “uniformed police to handle inquiries” could be taken to mean the station would be open to the public.
“These four documents make it abundantly clear that not only was Somerville designed to be open as a functioning police station, the previous chief gave the then-minister a commitment that the station would be open initially 16 hours a day with a 24-hour coverage.”