Tuesday, August 14, 2012

NSW Govt Fudging the thin blue line numbers | thetelegraph.com.au

Riot squad

Front line... Hundreds of police are being cut from high-crime areas across Sydney. Source: The Sunday Telegraph

HUNDREDS of police are being cut from high-crime areas across Sydney to meet government commitments to replace rail transit officers with police and to start up a highway patrol command.

NSW police figures show the "authorised strength" at City Central Command fell from 253 to 193, at Parramatta from 213 to 164, at Campbelltown from 180 to 150 and at Campsie from 173 to 149.

Other cuts from May to June included Flemington (220 down to 193); Newcastle City (302 down to 281) and Brisbane Water (238 to 222).

The government and Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said yesterday the officers were already with the commuter crime-unit area and were moved to two new commands: the Police Transport Command and Highway Patrol Command.

They said there was no net loss of police.

But Opposition Leader John Robertson claimed it was "clear cost-cutting", axing 298 officers who were "patrolling local communities".

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Even if they were commuter officers, they had been doing normal general duties, he said.

The O'Farrell government said in February it would cut 450 of 600 rail transit officer positions but hire 309 extra police to serve in a new police transport command.

Under the policy, 301 officers in the commuter crime unit would move into the new transport command and another 309 police would be hired to make a command of 610 by 2014, the government said.

"Parramatta, which has been the subject of four stabbings in only a matter of weeks, is the last place the O'Farrell government should be ripping 49 police officers from," Mr Robertson said.

"These 298 officers are responsible for a whole range of policing duties in local area commands, from investigating crime to patrolling the streets."

But a spokesman for Police Minister Mike Gallacher claimed it was just a shifting of numbers. "The government has delivered on its commitment to establish a new Police Transport Command and dedicated Highway Patrol Command," he said.

Commissioner Scipione said: "They haven't gone down in numbers ... (they're just) on someone else's roster.

"Since December of last year the total authorised strength has gone from 15,806 to ... 15,956 ... on the 24th August it goes up to 16,016."







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