Page 2197 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 22 June 2005

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anyone ever called for that, other than Mr Gentleman and Mr Hargreaves? Have you ever called for that?

Mr Pratt: No.

MR SESELJA: I do not think Mr Pratt has ever called for that. Mr Pratt is calling for an increase in the police numbers.

Members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Seselja has the call.

MR SESELJA: Thank you, Mr Speaker. We have seen the figures, but it took a long time for them to come out. Mr Hargreaves has been telling us for a long time that, “The police numbers are higher than when you guys were in office.” We find out in estimates that the number of sworn police is 583, yet in 2000-01 there were 597 sworn officers. The figures in that time have gone down both in absolute terms and in real terms, of course, with a growing population. People are concerned about the fact that the figures have gone down; there is no doubt about it.

As I said, Mr Hargreaves’s performance in estimates and again today is just to yell at Mr Pratt and tell him what a silly person he is for raising these issues; and how he wants a policeman at every letterbox or in every driveway. Of course, that just demonstrates that Mr Hargreaves’s mind is not on the job. I put it to the Assembly that it is important that Mr Hargreaves put aside the personal attacks, put aside the ranting and raving and start doing his job.

It is one thing to talk about intelligence-led policing. No-one would deny that it is important to target the areas where we expect crime, and those areas are targeted. No-one would dispute that, but we do dispute that you can continue to decrease the numbers of police with no adverse effects on the community. Of course there will be!

Intelligence-led policing can only take you so far. In the end, at some stage, you need some numbers. We submit, and I submit, that the numbers at the moment are too low. The statistics that came out in estimates show that the numbers have gone backwards, despite what Mr Hargreaves has been telling us for a long time. I commend Mr Pratt for drawing that out in the estimates process in what was a painstaking exercise, with Mr Hargreaves often refusing to cooperate.

In relation to some of the specifics, I asked questions about Gungahlin during the estimates process. The lack of a real after hours police presence in the area continues to be a concern to many residents in Gungahlin. Whilst the answer we got from the chief police officer was that the standard response time of eight minutes still applies in Gungahlin, just like everywhere else in Canberra, unfortunately it is very difficult for the eight-minute response time to be met when it was revealed that there are only a couple of cars covering both Belconnen and Gungahlin.

It is virtually impossible for police, who are already overstretched, to meet that kind of response time and get to parts of Gungahlin, or to the outer edge of Gungahlin, from the other side of Belconnen. This is of significant concern to many people in the community.

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