Cops having to choose which lives to save, says Maitland MP

27/08/2018 Posted by admin

CRIME PROBLEM: Shadow Minister for Justice and Police Guy Zangari and Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison discuss crime problems with pastor Damien Parks and Reverend Doug Morrison-Cleary.Maitland’s dire lack of police has forced officers to choose between which lives to save,Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison says, and it’s the driving force behind her push for more boots on the ground.

She said high domestic violence rates combined with alack of officersmeant police had to puttackling other incidentson the back burner.

“That’s a terrible situation for our police to be in because a lack of resourcing,” she said.

“Police in Maitland do an amazing job. But we are the highest for domestic violencein the state, that takes up an inordinate amount of their resources.

“There’s just not a lot left for these kinds of crimes that are happening in the community.”

One community memberthat has felt the pinch from a lack of policeis Thornton Church of Christ pastor Damien Parks.

He said the church had suffered a myriad of crimes, from vandalism to drug deals and even a church volunteerbeing assaulted and put in hospital.

Mr Parks said he called the police after that incident,butit took four hours for officers to arrive.

“They were very good, it just took a long time for them to get here,” he said.

Jenny Aitchison said it wasjust one of a number of reports her office hadreceivedthat pointed towards a necessity for more police.

“Our first advice is to report to police, but because of that lack of resourcing often there’s a very long delay between when someone reports and when the police areable to get there,” she said.

“Since the beginning of the yearwe’ve had sevenincidents of bikie related crime –that putsbig pressure on police.

“People coming into my office everyday telling me they’re scared to be in their own homes because of antisocial behaviour.”

Ms Aitchison and the local police union made a push last yearfor 20 extra police forMaitland. Ten positionswere allocatedin December, whowill arrive in the district in June.

But Ms Aitchison said 10 was not enough, and the fact Maitland’s police headquarters had been shifted over to Raymond Terracedid not help.

“We don’t have that headquarters hereit’s over at Port Stephens, we’re 10 police short, we haven’t got the full allocation from the other 10,” she said.

Shadow Minister forJustice and Police Guy Zangari visited Maitland on Wednesday to call on the government to allocate more police to Maitland.

When asked if a Labor governmentwould commit togreater police numbers, he said: “we are looking at that as we speak.”

“We will be putting forward a comprehensive package,” he said. “We will be going through and looking at the budget with what’s available in order to make sure that we get those frontline police officers we need.

He said Labor was looking at“strategies”that would be announced in coming months.

“We will continue to talk to people to ensure we get the right information possibleto give the Police Commissioner the funding and the resources he needs in order to fill the gaps in policing.”

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