Shire fears for police numbers in holiday crush

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MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council is concerned about a potential shortage of police over the busy holiday period.

New mayor Cr David Gill last week flagged his intention to hold “positive discussions with senior police and the government after the state election (Saturday 24 November) to ensure that adequate police numbers will be allocated to the Mornington Peninsula over summer”.

This follows claims that police could be understaffed and unable to cope with an emergency situation. “Over the Christmas holiday period the population on the Mornington Peninsula explodes almost overnight: from 163,000 to 225,000-250,000 people,” Cr Gill said.

“On top of this, the area is visited by an extremely large number of day trippers. Such a great influx puts a lot of demand on all emergency services.”

Cr Gill said police and all the emergency services on the peninsula were at “the very heart of community safety”.

“Ensuring adequate numbers of police are available at this period is vital – not only for community safety but also for the safety of our police officers and other emergency personnel.”

A 20-year police veteran last week expressed fears the peninsula was facing a “desperate shortage of front-line police” over the holiday period, (“Police stretched in holiday crush” The News 13/11/2018).

The officer, who The News did not name, criticised deployment numbers, particularly at Rosebud police station, saying its nominal complement of 60 police has been drastically cut by WorkCover issues, days off after night shift, leave and the usual four days off per fortnight. These had reduced actual numbers by more than half.

Compounding the problem was the allocation of 12 trainees to the station which was “burning out senior constables”.

Superintendent Adrian White, who oversees the Mornington Peninsula’s policing operations, refuted claims of a dearth of police. “There is no shortage of police on the Mornington Peninsula,” he said.

“We task to suit demand and we have the numbers to adequately police the region over the holiday period.

“There is no crisis.”

First published in the Mornington News – 20 November 2018

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