Call to fix police shortages

THE NSW Police Force must immediately fix the continuing officer shortages in the Coffs Harbour and Grafton Local Area Commands.

That’s the call from the Police Association of NSW after it was revealed Coffs Harbour has the second worst rate of officers off work on sick and stress leave or performing limited duties in NSW.

A total of 22 officers stationed at Coffs Harbour are currently restricted in their roles or off-duty due to illness, injury or stress.

Police Association of NSW executive member, Tony King, said the failure to meet agreed staffing levels at Coffs Harbour and Grafton was putting community safety and the welfare of officers at risk.

“First Response Police Agreements have been put in place for both Coffs Harbour and Grafton commands,” Mr King said.

“These agreements set out the required number of police officers to meet the expected police workload on a shift-by-shift basis over the summer months.

“Frontline officers in both commands agreed to the trial of new rostering arrangements, however management have repeatedly failed to provide enough police to meet these staffing requirements.”

He said there were simply insufficient police numbers to properly protect the community.

“As a result, police stations are being stretched beyond their capacity.

“At times stations have been closed and locked up, and officers have had to deal with situations without adequate back-up.”

The Police Association stands by the fact the community rightfully expects its police force to respond to calls for help in a timely manner.

It has vowed to take up the fight to the top brass until staff shortages are fixed.

“When several incidents happen at the same time, officers are simply unable to deal with them all.

“This means providing a timely response to calls for service from the community is simply impossible,” he said.

Currently 15 per cent of the NSW police force, or 735 officers, are off on sick or stress or bound to limited duties.

Every month 20,000 police shifts are lost, the equivalent of 230,000 police hours.

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