Single-Officer Police Stations
|About this Item||Subjects||Police: New South Wales; Assault; Occupational Health and Safety
||Speakers||Stoner Mr Andrew; Watkins Mr John
||Business||Questions Without Notice
Mr STONER: My question is to the Minister for Police. Given the recent death threats and bashings suffered by lone police officers at small country police stations, including Coolah, Cumnock and Boggabri, how many more police will be bashed and threatened before the Minister for Police delivers his promised review of single-officer police stations?
Mr WATKINS: I thank the honourable member for his question and particularly for his reference to Cumnock police station, which is just south of Dubbo. I was in the region last week and I believe that Cumnock is the most recent example of an incident occurring at a one-person police station. That is of great concern to me and to the commissioner, and to the local member. On 12 May Constable Pearson was assaulted while off duty at the police residence attached to Cumnock station. Then, on 3 June she was found unconscious at the rear of the station with a head wound.
Both matters are being investigated by police but the cause of the incidents remains unknown. I am sure all members of the House will wish Constable Pearson a speedy recovery. Cumnock is currently being policed by Molong sector staff, Orange general duties police, and the Canobolas highway patrol. The position there has been advertised and will be filled by a suitable officer as soon as possible. I am advised by Superintendent McKechnie of the Canobolas local area command that a single-unit station meets the normal policing needs of Cumnock and that there are no plans to change that.
There are 148 single-officer police stations spread throughout New South Wales, generally in low-risk rural communities. Many electorates have such a station. The Police Force and the Police Association have agreed that single-unit policing may be introduced where occupational health and safety conditions permit. However, only properly trained and equipped officers may perform single-unit duties. For instance, probationary constables cannot be deployed to single units. The Police Force has introduced a single-unit policy to support single officers in performing their duties. I made it clear when I was in Dubbo last week that if the police advise me that there needs to be changes to operational policing because of the risk at single-unit stations, I will listen to those requests and make changes. I have said that. I have put that on the record. I am now waiting for the police to put forward any recommendations.
Mr Stoner: Point of order: The point of order is in regard to relevance. The question was about a review promised by the previous police Minister in December last year.