POLICE stations in Coleraine and Casterton are under strain due to inadequate staffing levels, upper house MP Jaala Pulford claims.
The Labor MP said sources had informed her the Coleraine police station was not far off becoming a “shopfront — open a few days a week for signing paperwork with not a lot of traditional policing work done”.
“Coleraine is a 16-hour station — this means it is open 16 hours a day but it is of a particular status,” she told State Parliament.
“It is supposed to have one senior uniformed officer and two others. It currently has just the one senior uniformed officer.
“The former senior uniformed officer is on leave and has not been replaced.”
Ms Pulford said staffing shortages at Coleraine meant both Hamilton and Casterton had to “loan officers” in order to make up shortfalls.
“To fill the gaps at Coleraine, officers from other stations are called to help out,” she said.
“Casterton is also a 16-hour station, which again is supposed to have one senior and two others. This small staffing pool is stripped to help cover Coleraine, in turn leaving that station understaffed.”
Police Minister Kim Wells said the state government had fulfilled its commitment to improving rank-and-file policing number statewide, including Western District stations.
He said 20 new police officers had joined south-west ranks since the government came to power four years ago. However, Mr Wells said the allocation of police resources to specific stations was an operational matter for the Victoria Police chief commissioner Ken Lay.
Superintendent Don Downes told The Standard the Coleraine shortage was due to a staff member being on sick leave, meaning officers at nearby stations were rostered to fill in.
Superintendent Downes said staffing numbers at Casterton were at normal levels.