THE state government has moved to support the future of one-man police stations across Victoria.
Minister for Police Wade Noonan said that despite media reports to the contrary, the 105 one-member police stations were not being phased out.
“We understand they are an important fabric of many small towns in this state,” Mr Noonan said.
“As Minister for Police, I made a commitment in Parliament in February that this would keep all existing police stations open.
“This government does not support the forcible closure of police stations against the wishes of local communities.”
Mr Noonan said there were 329 police stations across Victoria and all, large and small, played a significant role in work done by police.
Single-officer stations in the south-west include Merino, Dartmoor, Branxholme, Cavendish, Dunkeld, Penshurst, Macarthur, Lake Bolac, Timboon, Lismore, Beeac, Forrest and Lavers Hill.
A Blue Paper released by former chief commissioner Ken Lay last year flagged the creation of “super sites” to replace clusters of smaller stations as resourcing had too often been based on population rather than crime rates.
Police Association secretary Detective Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles said he talked with the police minister yesterday and Mr Noonan had made a commitment that no police station would close.
“The minister was totally supportive of one-man rural police stations in Victoria. He made it known that he has that view,” he said.
“The Police Association continues to support one-person police stations and we’re happy to work with any community or local government council if they believe their station is going to be downgraded.”
Mr Iddles said some one-man stations had long-term vacancies, especially Minyip, but he understood that position would be filled.
Member for South West Coast Denis Napthine said one-member police stations were crucial to the safety of communities.
“Take away a local police member from a town and you are ripping out a community’s safety belt,” he said.
“History has told us that without a local police officer there is a significant increase in crime and theft.
“A local police presence delivers a safer community, a point of contact in an emergency or crisis.”
Dr Napthine said the Coalition government had a firm policy on retaining all one-officer stations across the state.
“We promised 1700 extra police officers and we delivered 1900 new police officers out in the force under our leadership,” he said.
“These extra police provided the chief commissioner with the resources to staff one-officer stations across the state as well as providing additional officers to meet growing population needs throughout Victoria.”
Dr Napthine said country police members played pivotal roles within their communities.
“Local police members like Macarthur’s David Rook or Branxholme’s David Tognon do more than enforce law and order. These officers are community stalwarts who are your mate at the footy, counsellor in your time of need. They are individuals who provide guidance and leadership to all ages.”