Richmond police force praised

RECENT favourable crime statistics in the Richmond Local Area Command showing a significant drop in robberies and assaults are the result of ‘above authorised’ staffing levels, the NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Dave Owens said in Lismore yesterday.

“The Northern Region’s actual strength of staff is above the authorised strength and the statistics speak volumes, showcasing the great job the troops have done and continue to do,” he said.

Deputy Commissioner Owens defended staffing levels despite the Richmond and Tweed-Byron local area commands receiving considerably less than the State average in recent allocations of graduating officers, and in light of police union claims that both commands are understaffed.

Suggestions that up to 50 extra officers are needed in the Tweed-Byron command alone did not impress the bemused Deputy Commissioner.

“Look, I’d love to put 50 officers across the State let alone in Tweed-Byron,” he said.

“We’ve had a look at how we deploy our resources ... to say we need 50 extra staff is a gross exaggeration, and on all of the data I have on the workloads it doesn’t justify a jump in those numbers.

“Do we need to look at the resources, how we use what we’ve got? Yes, absolutely we do.”

The Deputy Commissioner took a whirlwind tour through the Richmond Local Area Command yesterday, visiting Lismore, Nimbin and Kyogle stations to meet with local officers and discuss regional issues.

“This is part of my normal duties ... to experience first-hand what the staff deal with day in and day out,” he said.

“It’s a chance for me to meet commanders, staff and the community.”

While Deputy Commissioner Owens praised local officers for their efforts to reduce crime and commended them for working with their communities to deal with local issues, he took the opportunity to plead with the public to reduce the current unacceptable road toll, making repeated reference to last week’s double fatal crash on the Pacific Highway near New Italy.

“The one thing I am worried about, not just here but State-wide, is the road toll – what can I do to lessen it?

“We need to get a message across to people, it’s not just alcohol, it’s fatigue and it’s speed.

“We need a fresh message as the old message doesn’t seem to get through – if that means I have to get graphic, then so be it.

“We need to work with local police, with the councils and with the RTA to get this mix right.”

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