Half of Gunnedah's police officers commute from Tamworth, the station is 16.6 per cent understaffed, and two general-duties positions can’t be filled.
The high cost of rent in Gunnedah is hindering a strong local police force, says NSW Police Association member Stewart Judd.
“As an association, we found the biggest issue we have in getting people to transfer into Gunnedah is the affordability of housing,” Constable Judd said.
“We believe that if rental assistance was in place, it would be an incentive for police officers to transfer into Gunnedah and retain them.”
Constable Judd said the Gunnedah station had not run at full capacity for “an extended period of time” and there had been “little interest” in the two advertised positions for constables.
“Despite our efforts, the positions have not been filled,” he said.
“Staffing levels are having an effect on current staff at Gunnedah with increased workloads, which is causing fatigue and burn-out.”
Constable Judd said lack of numbers also meant the police station was not always open during the day.
“We’ve been running at 16.6 per cent understaffing for an extended period of time,” he said.
“Due to limited staff, we are forced to close the doors, making it hard for the people of Gunnedah to report crime.
“It’s in the best interests of the community that our staffing levels reach their full potential.”
We believe that if rental assistance was in place, it would be an incentive for police officers to transfer into Gunnedah and retain them- Stewart Judd, NSW Police Association
A spokesperson for Gunnedah Shire Council said the investigation into subsidised housing would be extensive.
“Council staff will be investigating the feasibility of providing accommodation for police officers, taking into account all relevant information,” the spokesperson said.
“The research is complex and is expected to take quite some time and a report will be presented to the council for consideration upon its completion.”