Regions will have more police on the ground

DOZENS of communities across the state will soon receive an increased police presence including Wellington, with regional Victorians set to benefit most from last week’s announcement of new police resources.

Wellington Police Service Area will receive eight new police positions and the East Gippsland Police Service Area 15.

An additional 788 police and 25 Protective Services Officers will be deployed across the state over 12 months from May, with hundreds of officers headed for regional Victoria.

The move is part of Victoria Police’s ongoing recruitment, training and deployment of more than 3000 additional officers by April 2022.

A total 580 police officers will be added to the frontline, with more than 350 headed towards regional centres such as Geelong, Warrnambool, Horsham, Goulburn Valley, Morwell and Bairnsdale.

In total, 117 police stations across the state will receive extra resources, which represents the most significant investment in regional policing in Victoria Police’s 167-year history.

Almost 60 Divisional Highway Patrol officers and Road Policing Command positions will also be distributed to tackle the road toll in Victoria and ensure there is a visible police presence to deter risky and dangerous driver behaviour.

This is on top of more than 50 Divisional Highway Patrol officers already deployed over the previous two years.

For the first time, 48 new positions have been allocated to the Regional Crime Teams across the state.

The positions will free up general duty resources by investigating complex networked offending within Victoria.

The remaining police officers are being deployed to specialist policing areas including crime, transit and public safety, state emergency and support, and intelligence and covert support.

Training at the academy is already underway, with the new officers to be gradually rolled out to police stations and specialist areas by April 2021.

This is the third deployment of 2729 new officers funded through the state government’s Community Safety Statement.

Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent said it was the biggest injection of regional officers in the force’s 167-year history, with regional Victoria set to receive more than 350 frontline officers from May.

“This is in addition to hundreds of frontline officers and dedicated family violence, crime investigation, highway patrol, and sexual offences and child abuse specialists already rolled out over the past two years,” he said.

“I know the challenges faced by our rural police, so these additional numbers will be a welcome relief.

“The additional numbers will assist our officers to tackle key issues we face in rural areas such as family violence, drugs, road trauma and natural disasters.

“It also means more police on the beat than ever before, who will be working around the clock to protect the community, prevent crime and hold offenders to account.

“Our unwavering focus remains on tackling high harm offending which can often have traumatic and life-changing consequences for victims.

“The extra resources will also give police more time to focus on reducing crime that causes widespread harm across the community, such as drugs related offences.

“The influx of officers in regional areas will also assist us in enhancing our ability to provide immediate assistance when state disasters occur, such as bushfires or floods.”

Several factors are taken into consideration when allocating new resources, such as calls for assistance, reported crime, event management and traffic incidents, and the time required to provide these services.

Police and Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said the announcement was good news for Victorians.

“Our record investment is delivering more police officers out on the streets, helping police to relentlessly focus on driving down the crime rate across our state and continue to keep our communities safer for years to come,” she said.

“We’re investing in more police than ever before on the streets in Melbourne and across regional areas, in frontline duties and specialised roles to keep Victorians safe.”