Ryan pledges cops

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Ryan pledges cops

By Matt Dunn
THE State Opposition will commit 1600 extra police around the state, with Nationals leader and Coalition police spokesman Peter Ryan saying he was confident it would mean more officers for Wonthaggi.
But where the officers would be placed, and whether the boom town would get extra police, would ultimately be a matter for police command, Mr Ryan said.
“It’s a matter for the chief commissioner to allocate the extra resources,” he said.
The Coalition’s policy was to “stabilise the position in Melbourne and then deal with the problems in Bendigo, Ballarat and the Valley and also have regard to the main problem areas across the rest of the state.
“With Wonthaggi facing a significant influx arising from the desal construction and the natural growth it would have had anyway, I’d be very confident that they will have the extra police they need,” he said. 
Mr Ryan said the State Government was “in denial” about the crime problem facing Victoria.
“They are absolutely in denial about the extent of the problem. The position in Wonthaggi is just an example,” he said.
Mr Ryan said part of the money for extra police would be found by slashing government advertising when the Coalition was in power.
“Many of the Brumby Government advertising campaigns are nothing more than deceptive political advertising using taxpayer funds. Victorians can decide at the next election if they want more advertisements from John Brumby or more police from Ted Baillieu,” Mr Ryan said.
But Police Minister Bob Cameron told The Star that, despite calls from the region’s top cop Inspector Brian Curley for at least eight more officers in the town, crime was significantly down in the region.
In recent weeks Inspector Curley floated the idea that “the government could give us some temporary funding to create fixed term positions” to help out overstretched officers in the town.
Inspector Curley said the town would experience a boom in traffic, pub violence and other social problems with the ballooning population that will come in the wake of the construction of the desalination plant.
“How police stations are resourced is an operational matter and is decided by police,” Mr Cameron said. 
“We will continue working with police to give them the strong powers and resources they need to keep driving down crime. 
“Since November 1999, police numbers in the Bass Coast Police services area have increased by 26.41 per cent, while crime is down 20.5 per cent since 2000-01.”
Official figures for Bass Coast Shire put the rise in assaults at 45.7 per cent, while the figure was up 9.3 per cent in the South Gippsland Shire.
Member for Bass, Ken Smith said Mr Cameron’s assertions that crime was being driven down were
incorrect.
“He’s a showman. Sideshow Bob. Crime isn’t down. Crime is going up and we don’t have enough police. It’s as simple as that. Cameron won’t admit to it,” Mr Smith said.
“A least with (Nationals leader and Coalition police spokesman) Peter Ryan we’re going to have someone who’s very competent in doing the job.”
Mr Smith predicted a big increase in police numbers for the region if the Coalition were elected. 
“One would expect there to be a large increase in police numbers right across the state and we would be getting our fair share of them. We don’t have enough here. Even (Inspector) Brian Curley attests to the fact there is not enough police and he’s calling for more,” Mr Smith said.
But Mr Smith believes the eight more police Inspector Curley was calling for would not be enough. He said police operations needed to change too, putting more police out on the beat and taking them out from behind desks.
“We should have unsworn officers doing that sort of (office) work. It’s just crazy that we’ve got really good police officers having to sit behind a computer writing out reports when we can get unsworn people doing that,” he said.
“We’ll get 1600 police officers, plus we should get unsworn officers back in the stations.”

Short URL: http://www.thestar.com.au/?p=174

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