Blacktown and Quakers Hill police under strength

OUT IN FORCE: Shadow justice minister Guy Zangari and Blacktown MP John Robertson have accused the NSW government of under-funding police. Picture: Harrison Vesey
OUT IN FORCE: Shadow justice minister Guy Zangari and Blacktown MP John Robertson have accused the NSW government of under-funding police. Picture: Harrison Vesey

Blacktown is lacking at least a dozen police officers who should be keeping residents safe.

Blacktown MP John Robertson and shadow justice minister Guy Zangari met at Blacktown police station yesterday to highlight the shocking figures.

Official data from NSW Police revealed that in April, Blacktown Local Area Command (LAC) was under strength by eight officers, and Quakers Hill LAC was under strength by four officers.

The Labor politicians claimed it was evidence the Liberal state government was “failing people in the Blacktown region”, but the office for Police Minister Troy Grant has hit back.

“We’re calling on the government to give Blacktown the resources it needs. The community deserves the full complement,” Mr Zangari said.

“It makes it very difficult for those who are back here [at Blacktown police station] when they’re under strength. It obviously increases issues when it comes to physical and mental wellbeing of police officers, and the natural battle of attrition with numbers.”

Mr Robertson said Blacktown police station was one of the busiest in the state and needed to be at full strength as authorised by NSW Police.

“I talk to these guys all the times at all levels, and they keep saying it’s hard to keep up with the demand because they’re over-stretched. If they want to keep up...it means they’re staying back, they’re working unpaid overtime, all those sorts of things, just to stay on top of all the things they’ve got to do,” Mr Robertson said.

“That puts pressure on their wellbeing, mentally and physically. Over time that impacts on their capacity to do the job to protect the local community.”

Mr Zangari claimed the Sydney basin was under strength by about 500 police officers in total, due to a lack of funding from the state government.

A spokeswoman for Police Minister Troy Grant said the placement of officers was an operational matter for the commissioner, and that Blacktown and Quakers Hill received six new officers from the most recent police academy class.

“The NSW government is committed to boosting the authorised strength of the NSW Police Force to 16,795 over this term,” she said.

“The recent attestation of class 330 brought the number of recruits to pass through the Goulburn Police Academy since 2011 to 3,937.”

The spokeswoman also said the Minister was re-engineering NSW Police to ensure there were more officers on the ground, but Mr Zangari said the promised restructure had yet to show any positive outcome.

“We’ve heard it all before,” he said. “They had this workforce solutions for policing program they spent thousands on, they keep talking about it, but nothing’s come to fruition.”

A NSW Police spokesperson said police numbers were subject to fluctuations due to recruitment, resignation, retirement, training, special operations and leave.

"NSW Police regularly review resourcing and allocation of police officers according to operational needs,” they said.

"We will continue to monitor police numbers to ensure communities are served and supported by their local officers.”