Police work focus needs right balance

UNLESS you’re up to no good, it is comforting to see the boys in blue patrolling our streets and a uniformed copper is a welcome sight if you’re unfortunate enough to have been a victim of crime. 

For women, in particular, a visible police presence means a lot, especially at night.

But there are moves afoot at the top of police command to look more closely at policing methods and that may well mean fewer cops on the beat, across the state.

Chief commissioner Ken Lay sounds like any other chief of a big organisation when he talks about “working smarter’’ or “pressing challenges’’ or “the need to modernise’’ — the difference between Commissioner Lay and other bosses being that in his business lives can depend on whether he makes the right decisions or not.

Society is changing and it is hard to argue with Commissioner Lay’s logic when he says that more blue shirts patrolling in divisional vans are not the answer to Victoria’s crime problems.

Like everything else, crime is evolving and while it remains important for police to be at hand when needed, the state’s top cop is correct in declaring that a large proportion of offences are a direct result of sophisticated, organised crime and that’s where the fight should begin and, if possible, end.

More analysts, online experts, chemists, forensic scientists and specialist detectives would be used to tackle organised crime before it can permeate to street level.

That’s the theory anyway and certainly with drug-related crime driving other offences such as burglary, robbery and violence it makes sense.

Commissioner Lay has big fish to fry but he must also understand that for regional communities in particular there will be a need to strike a balance between tackling the top end and providing adequate and accessible resources to deal with the everyday because for most people that’s what matters the most.


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