LOW NUMBERS: Police Association of NSW Ballina branch chairman David Longfield has called for more police for the town.
LOW NUMBERS: Police Association of NSW Ballina branch chairman David Longfield has called for more police for the town. Marc Stapelberg

Police riddled by 'disgraceful' staffing shortage

STRETCHED thin and covering a huge region, police have called for extra numbers for the Ballina Shire.

Police Association of NSW Ballina branch chair David Longfield said the number of officers in Ballina had not increased since 1986.

He said this was "disgraceful", as the shire's population had doubled in that time.

"We've been fighting for more staff for a long, long time and we keep getting short-changed by successive state governments."

He said night shift officers at Ballina were required to cover the areas of non-24/7 stations, taking them as far south as Tabbimoble and often with only two officers.

The PANSW has called for 2500 extra officers across the state, some of which would fill existing, vacant positions.

With Ballina tipped to overtake Lismore in population, Mr Longfield said they "clearly don't have sufficient police to meet the needs of the community" and new positions would need to be created.

"We need to future-proof the community," he said.

"We're a massively growing area and we need the police to meet those needs."

Commissioner Mick Fuller and Police Minister Troy Grant had insisted a re-engineering of the NSW Police Force would mean a better deal for regional areas.

But Mr Longfield said that hadn't been the case in Ballina.

He said the NSW Police Force needed a "transparent staff allocation model".

Ballina mayor David Wright was concerned police numbers were "not growing in line with the rise in population".

"Police are doing an amazing job. But we've been asking for increases ever since I've been on council," he said.

He said a new station would eventually be needed for Lennox Head. For now, Cr Wright said the slim staffing available at night was not enough.

"You never know how many is enough," he said.

"However ... to only have one car on at night, I think, is not good enough."

Richmond Police District Acting Superintendent Toby Lindsay was unavailable for comment.



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