Police worry over on-call cutback

THE police union fears that the recent reduction of on-call officers in the Deloraine police division will jeopardise the safety of members and the community.

However, police command said that on-call arrangements for the Longford subdivision were changed to make them consistent with the rest of the Northern police district.

The Deloraine division covers police stations at Beaconsfield, Campbell Town, Cressy, Deloraine, Evandale, Exeter, Longford, Perth and Westbury.

Police Association of Tasmania president Pat Allen said that between Campbell Town and Deloraine there had been a decrease in the number of officers on call for after- hours incidents.

He said this situation was dangerous and stupid. "Over this large area there are only two officers on call to respond to emergency situations," Constable Allen said.

"There will always be one officer on call in Deloraine, but the second person may be on call anywhere from Longford to Campbell Town.

"The cost of reducing the number of on-call officers by one equates to a saving of less than $20 a night.

"Because of the tyranny of distance, the previous officer-in-charge of the division instituted two officers to be on call between Longford and Campbell Town, with one officer stationed at Deloraine.

"This was changed recently when that particular OIC was transferred, and this has caused members in the area to relay concerns for their safety and the safety of the public to the Police Association of Tasmania.

"If the on-call officer at Campbell Town is called to an urgent incident, his back-up from Deloraine is at least an hour away."

But Northern Commander Richard Cowling said that the on- call arrangements for the Longford subdivision were reviewed after feedback and brought into line with the rest of the Northern district.

Mr Cowling said the arrangements aimed to respond to the community's needs, with the safety of the community and officers a priority.

"This means the Deloraine division has three officers on call at any time, and is supplemented by extra resources if required," he said.

"On-call arrangements ensure police are available to be recalled to duty outside rostered hours, which end between midnight and 2am."

Constable Allen however, drew parallels with a high-profile tragedy, when a lone officer attended an incident at Westbury and fired his pistol while in fear of his life, resulting in a man's death.

"Despite the coroner's recommendations arising from this incident, it appears no lessons have been learnt," he said.

"It's no use relying on sending officers from the Launceston division after hours as they are also having their own troubles in relation to numbers on the shifts.

"The association is calling for an immediate review of on-call arrangements in the North of the state."Email ctang@examiner.com.au

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