Policing shouldn’t be a numbers game. But we know it is.
More police mean more wages, extra hours in emergencies means overtime and puts pressure on the budget bottom line.
We all want a safer community, that’s why police say we should lock-up, keep an eye on our streets, and report suspicious activity.
But today’s front page is concerning. We know Tamworth has a drug problem, we’ve been detailing the crisis for years.
Now, the very people charged with investigating serious crime in Tamworth, and places like Gunnedah, Quirindi, Werris Creek, Manilla, Nundle and Walcha, say they can’t do it all.
On top of drugs, a team of Oxley detectives has to investigate robberies, firearms offences, missing persons, outlaw motorcycle gangs, sexual assaults and fraud.
In Tamworth and Gunnedah, one detective sergeant leads a team of 12, with two rural crime investigators. That team has to police a population of almost 85,000 people – making it the busiest in the Western Region.
Detectives have revealed that in the Oxley Command, there is no dedication position assigned to manage the list of convicted sex offenders.
In Oxley, 73 convicted sex offenders are living and working here – more than any other area in Western Region, and putting us in the top 10 in the state for numbers.
Monitoring 73 people in a workforce is a tough task, but no one it seems has that full-time responsibility, rather it falls across an office that says it’s drowning in work.
The numbers haven’t risen with the ice epidemic. The same number of officers are still policing the streets as this time two years ago, but crime rates have jumped as drugs fuel property offences, domestic violence and other serious crime.
When you look at the figures, in the Orana area – the headquarters for Western Region policing, and police minister Troy Grant’s Dubbo seat – the detectives office has a 22-strong team.
They police 55 sex offenders and a population of 62,000, while New England has 18 investigators including rural crime officers and polices a population of almost 70,000 people. In Canobolas, 17 detectives police 68,145 people across the Orange and Cowra area.
Community safety can’t be measured by figures. But when you look at the data, one thing is clear. The numbers don’t stack up.