The incoming president of the Police Association of NSW hopes a significant chunk of a funding boost announced by the state government will flow to regional police districts.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Police Minister Troy Grant announced police funding would increase to $3.9 billion at the Police Association’s biennial conference in Wollongong on Tuesday, which will be handed down in the June 19 Budget.
It came less than 24 hours after the association called for an extra 2500 officers to be recruited to address what officer shortages and help combat growing issues of terrorism, illicit drug use and child abuse.
NSWPA president Tony King said any additional spending on law enforcement was welcome but said he would reserve judgement on how useful the funding would be until the government reveals how it will be spent.
“As a country cop for the last 26 years, I’ll be watching very closely to see how much of the funding will be going to regional areas,” Mr King said.
“The fact is policing in the bush has been a problem for a number of years now. The change from Local Area Commands to Police Districts hasn’t really changed anything.
“It’s quite evident that more police are needed in these areas. There just aren’t enough officers on the ground.”
Dubbo, Bathurst, Orange, Parkes and Forbes were among the worst regional areas for police shortages, Mr King said.
He said it was made worse by police being required to perform prisoner transport duties that took them off their regular duties, and monitoring a growing number of offenders on the child protection register.
Mr King said NSW had the lowest number of police per head of population of all the states and one of the main purposes of the conference was to quantify how serious the problem was.
The official opening of the conference was attended by the Premier, Mr Grant, NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley and NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller.
Ms Berejiklian said the funding was “a record investment” and said it would enable officers to catch even more criminals.
“We are proud to make this record investment but our work doesn’t stop here – we will continue to support our police with funding and the tools they need so they can keep our communities safe.
“The government’s strong economic management has allowed us to make these record investments.”
Mr Grant said the State Budget would give Police Commissioner Mick Fuller the flexibility and resources required to fight crime.
“After a horror start to the year on NSW roads, an additional $83 million has been allocated for policing on country roads, including doubling the mobile drug testing program with 100,000 additional tests per year,” he said.
“We will continue to provide the resources our men and women in blue need to do the amazing work they’re renowned for.”