Nationals MP Melina Bath labelled the Andrews Government’s plans to strip country towns of their single station police officer as “outrageous”.
The Andrews Government is seeking to channel officers from all 98 one-person police stations in small Victoria towns into larger regional hubs and cities.
Ms Bath said she will be raising the issue in State Parliament this week, calling on Labor to take its hands off rural one officer police stations.
“This move threatens to leave rural communities without a policing presence and sends a signal that the safety and protection of our rural communities doesn’t matter,” said Ms Bath.
“Given the multi-faceted role of single officer stations, it will undoubtably result in a rise in crime and decline in community safety and wellbeing in these areas.
“Labor’s plan to prop up rosters across 24-hour stations is a mere band aid fix for failing Andrews Government policy and poor decision which is resulting in police officers leaving the force in record numbers.”
Eleven of Victoria’s 98 single police office stations are located in eastern Victoria and include Boolarra, Briagolong, Bruthen, Lang Lang, Loch Sport, Loch, Meeniyan, Mirboo North, Rawson, Stratford, and Swifts Creek.
Ms Bath said these rural single officer police stations have much in common; each have a stream of tourists passing through, are located in prime agricultural districts and poor road maintenance and safety is a serious issue for locals and unsuspecting visitors.
“The Nationals fiercely oppose the diminishing of police resources in our rural areas, we need more cops not less.
“The loss of single officer stations equates to further pressure on incident response times.
“In our small towns, the locally based police officer is a trusted public figure – proactively maintaining community safety, with on the ground ‘know-how’ and local knowledge.
“Our rural communities should never be punished Daniel Andrews’ failures in maintaining staffing in 24 hour police stations.
“I’m calling for Labor to fix its issues with police recruitment and retention and keep its hands off our single officer rural police stations.”