OXLEY police need 25 more officers on the ground if they’re to curb crime and win the war against ice, the state’s police association warns.
On Thursday, the Tamworth branch of the Police Association of NSW (PANSW) will call for more than two dozen new police positions to be placed in the Oxley district to bolster the ranks and get boots back on the street, fighting crime.
It comes as the PANSW warns the police district is already 11 officers short with current vacancies across Tamworth, Gunnedah, Quirindi, Boggabri and Narrabri.
“We're struggling here in Tamworth to manage the ice scourge and anybody that is in some of our communities knows we're struggling to keep up with demand the drug crime puts on us,” PANSW Tamworth vice-chair Josh McKenzie told The Leader.
Mr McKenzie said the new campaign was not about more pay or different conditions, “it’s about having the people power on the street” to do the job properly – like police in Sydney and Newcastle.
We're struggling here in Tamworth to manage the ice scourge and anybody that is in some of our communities knows we're struggling to keep up with demand the drug crime puts on us.PANSW Tamworth vice-chair Josh McKenzie
“We need those similar resources here to be able to properly target drug crime, to be able to properly target property crime here areas like South and West Tamworth have been subjected too and terrorised in the last 12 months, and those extra resources would give us the power to target those offenders rather than reacting to those incidents,” he said.
Police say without dedicated custody officers, frontline police were being diverted away from the street to manage those in custody, with Tamworth boasting similar custody numbers to places like Newcastle and Macquarie Fields.
They also say dedicated positions are needed to manage roles like the Child Protection Register (CPR) – something The Leader revealed in 2017.
“It fluctuates but we’ve got somewhere in the vicinity of 80 sex offenders on our register here in Tamworth and we need to have dedicated police to properly target those people so that our children in the community are safe,” Mr McKenzie said.
During a one-hour period on Wednesday, The Leader saw four off-duty officers enter the station to complete paperwork or tie up loose ends from earlier shifts.
PANSW executive member Michael Buko, who lives and works in Tamworth, said the workload was turning off police from moving to the city.
“These GDs police, they're coming in on their days off to complete briefs of evidence, complete paperwork for AVOs, they can't do it during their shift because there is not enough staff,” he said.
These GDs police, they're coming in on their days off to complete briefs of evidence, complete paperwork for AVOs, they can't do it during their shift because there is not enough staff.PANSW Michael Buko
The local branch says without extra numbers police will continually be reacting to crime and unable to deal with the long list of domestics and property crime.
“Ice is not going away, it's everywhere,” Mr Buko said.
“Without the police out there locking these people up, the community is at risk, and we don't want that, we just need more officers to back the blue on the ground.”