Police chief attacks rostering system
By ANDY PARKS email@example.com BLOCK rostering of police was damaging the service provided to the community, the region's top cop said yesterday.
Richmond Local Area Commander Supt Bruce Lyons said while local police were not working second jobs to the extent of their city counterparts, the controversial block rostering system was a cause for concern.
A report by the New South Wales Auditor-General, Peter Achterstraat, tabled in the NSW Parliament on Wednesday, said 'the rigid work pattern increases the risk the force may be unable to attend calls quickly, provide good customer service and protect the wellbeing of its officers'.
Supt Lyons yesterday agreed the system was not always able to respond to public demands.
"There is a legitimate concern from the community about block rostering," he said.
"Sometimes victims and members of the community find it difficult to contact the police because of block days off.
"I don't agree with 12-hour block rostering because the community doesn't get the service from the police they deserve.
"People want to be able to contact the officer who they first spoke to and there are some problems in the continuity of an investigation if an officer is rostered off for six days."
The 12-hour block rostering system allows police to be rostered on for four 12-hour shifts two day shifts and two night shifts, within a four-day period. They are then rostered off for up to six days.
Supt Lyons said he was also concerned about fatigue for his officers.
However, NSW Police Association Lismore branch chairman Paul Fredericks disagrees with many of the criticisms raised by the Auditor-General.
"Rosters are not set in stone, they are fluid objects which change on a daily basis based upon short remand court matters and other operational requirements that arise," he said.
"I understand and acknowledge certain areas of customer service need improvement, but in our view it's a separate issue to 12-hour rostering."
Mr Fredericks said rosters were done on a six-week cycle and in the last cycle, the roster was changed 16 times.
One of the other criticisms of the report was that up to 50 per cent of police were working second jobs, but Supt Lyons said the figure was less than seven per cent for his command.