Baillieu’s tough on crime promise in tatters

Premier Ted Baillieu’s law and order policy is in tatters with figures showing police numbers falling in high growth areas, Opposition Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister for Police James Merlino said today.

Documents obtained by the Opposition under Freedom of Information show police numbers have not kept up with population growth in 15 of the 21 divisional police areas acrossVictoria.

Five police service areas encompassing Casey, Greater Dandenong, Cardinia, Frankston, Mornington,Geelong,SurfCoast, Brimbank and Melton have suffered police cuts of up to 24 per cent from November 2010 to February 2012.

This follows police crime statistics showing overall Victorian crime from March 2011 to March 2012 has increased for the first time in more than 10 years.(*Statistics at bottom of page)

“Mr Baillieu in Opposition talked a lot about the need to put police where they were needed,” Mr Merlino said. “But these figures show police numbers are not keeping up with population growth in some areas.

“Police Minister Peter Ryan has dropped the ball on reducing crime.

“Clearly Mr Ryan is distracted by the crisis in Victoria Police command and in his own office.

“Mr Ryan promised to get tough on crime and boost police numbers but the figures clearly show a government in disarray when it comes to resourcing and tackling crime.”

Mr Merlino said the Baillieu Government had cut $65 million from Victoria Police, slashed 480 jobs from the Department of Justice and 350 jobs from Victoria Police as crime has increased.

“These figures confirm what the public suspect. The Baillieu Government’s tough on crime law and order policy is nothing more than spin from this ‘no action’ government.

“The Government is implementing its bungled PSO policy which has blown out by $60 million and behind schedule while it is cutting police resources and not reducing crime.

“Mr Baillieu’s public sector job cuts will put more pressure on frontline policing operations when officers are forced to deal with additional paperwork.

“With police stuck behind desks and an admission from Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay that family violence is contributing to the increase in overall crime stats, the Baillieu Government is failing to not only address the issue but give police the resources to tackle it.”

*Crimes against the person, including assaults, increased by 10.4 per cent, drug related offences jumped by 14.7 percent increase, robberies increased by 5.6 per cent, residential burglaries rose by 4.1 per cent while theft of a motorcar increased by 4.2 per cent.