Police staffing crisis in Coffs

THE police union is claiming Coffs Harbour Police Station is struggling to keep its doors open.

Claims have been made staff shortages are so critical, the station’s front doors have had to be locked on some occasions.

The revelations come on the heels of last week’s public meeting at Park Beach, which called for more police patrols, and the recent temporary closure of Sawtell Police Station earlier this year.

“At Coffs Harbour at present, staff numbers are very low and police from the sectors of Woolgoolga, Sawtell and Bellingen along with police from other local units are being re-deployed to Coffs Harbour to meet the minimum number of police required to keep the doors open, ” said Detective Senior Constable Tony King, the Police Association’s northern region executive member.

“They’re still robbing Peter to pay Paul – they’ve dragged in officers from the out-stations to prop up Coffs and they’re also rostering non-operational officers in fully-operationalroles. It’s been going on for far too long.”

It’s a similar story in the Clarence Valley and a meeting is scheduled with northern region police bosses next week to resolve the crisis.

Detective King claims police commanders are breaching Coffs Harbour’s first response policing agreement – detailing the minimum number of officers required on duty every shift – due to the staff shortages. “They’re not rostering the required numbers on duty at Coffs Harbour because the cupboard’s bare,” he said.

The Coffs Harbour branch of the Police Association has not yet served a dispute notice with police hierarchy, but their Clarence Valley colleagues have.

Coffs/Clarence acting local area commander, Detective Inspector Cameron Lindsay, said while the staffing issues raised by the union had “no direct effect on the community and the delivery of policing services”, they had to be addressed.

“As a result, the notice of dispute and the issues contained within will be addressed by the northern region police command as soon as possible,” Insp Lindsay said.

“I want to make it as clear as possible to the community of the Coffs/Clarence local area command and those who visit the area that we are committed to providing a high standard of policing services and to respond to the community’s needs as required.”

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