PSO Policy In Tatters As Budget Shows $50 Million Blowout

The Baillieu Government’s promise to deploy Protective Services Officers to every metropolitan train station is in tatters with the State Budget showing a $50 million blowout and no sign of funds to improve station facilities for PSOs, Shadow Minister for Police James Merlino said today.

Mr Merlino said the Government had originally costed the policy at $161.5 million, but the Budget allocated more than $212 million – with no mention of how it will provide amenities for PSOs on stations.

“This is yet another indication that the Baillieu Government’s policy is a shambles – it has not been thought through properly and still requires significant planning,” Mr Merlino said.

“What is clear, however, is that regional Victoria has been short-changed, with today’s announcement that PSOs will only be deployed at four regional train stations, rather than the 13 promised by Police Minister Peter Ryan in 2009.

“Key players have already expressed growing concern about the Government’s failure to plan the detail of policy it has supposedly been working on for years, and today’s Budget shows the funding arrangements are also in utter disarray.

“And despite lauding their efforts at protecting public infrastructure, Mr Baillieu has failed to fund any improvements to stations to ensure that PSOs can access on-site facilities while on duty at railway stations. Clearly talk is cheaper than action.

“Perhaps Mr Ryan intends to deploy the nine new brawler vans funded in the Budget to transport PSOs to nearby toilets.

“After intense scrutiny on its plan to deploy 120 PSOs to 24-hour hospital emergency departments, this item was noticeably absent from today’s Budget, after the Government decided to undertake some last-minute consultation on its plan.”

Mr Merlino said there was also a $6.5 million black hole for new and upgraded police stations across the state.

“This Budget shows the contempt which the Baillieu Government holds for the hard-working members of Victoria Police,” Mr Merlino said.

“Mr Baillieu promised to deliver $40 million for police stations in a dozen communities throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria, but he’s broken that promise by allocating just $33.5 million, which won’t go far if the Government is serious about delivering on its promise to recruit, train and deploy 1700 new police and 940 PSOs by 2014.

“Mr Baillieu and Mr Ryan like to talk tough on crime but today’s Budget shows their Government is all talk and no action.

“They need to explain why the communities of Ashburton, Mooroopna, North Ballarat / Sebastapol, Forest Hill, Paynesville, Mooroolbark, Emerald, Waurn Ponds, Sale and Somerville, and the team who work out of the Essendon Operational Safety and Tactics Training Facility, have been short-changed on this important election commitment.”

Shadow Minister for Crime Prevention Jill Hennessy said the Government’s plans to set up an IBAC continue to falter with the Budget showing a $9 million cost blowout.

“The Baillieu Government has barely been in office for six months but already its plans to set up an IBAC are behind schedule and over budget.” Ms Hennessy said.

“Andrew McIntosh is making a real mess of what was one of the Baillieu Government’s flagship crime prevention policies.

“We already knew that the IBAC, which was due to be up and running by July 1 this year, will not be introduced before the end of this year at the earliest.

“But the Budget papers seem to indicate that the existing Office of Police Integrity will be in operation until July 1, 2012.

“And we also learn that it’s running over Budget.

“The Government initially said the IBAC would cost $80 million, but the Budget papers show it will cost at least $89 million in its first year of operation.”

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