Row over city police numbers

THE police union has revealed that there were only three operational members of the Launceston Uniform Division on day shift in the central business district on Wednesday, after two officers called in sick, forcing other resources to be brought in.

However, Northern police command said there were 19 officers across the entire Launceston Uniform Division on Wednesday for the day shift, excluding the sick officers, so there were plenty of officers available.

The Launceston Division includes the city area, Newnham and Ravenswood.

Police Association of Tasmania president Pat Allen said that one of the three operational members in the city area was stuck in the Launceston Supreme Court doing court security duty on Wednesday.

He said it was "ridiculous" that police still had to do this job in the North, when police in the South did not have to.

"In the early 1990s police were taken out of courts in the South, but not the rest of the state," Constable Allen said.

"We have been calling for years for that to change, so that proper resources can be put on the streets."

Northern Acting Commander John King said it was a requirement for police to be in the Supreme Court.

"The Supreme Court does absorb some of our resources, but it's within our capabilities at this current time," he said.

Mr King acknowledged that while there were fewer operational members in the CBD on Wednesday day shift because of illness, there was a total of 19 officers - a double shift - across the entire Launceston Uniform Division working day shift.

"Where resources are required, we send our officers on a priority basis," he said.

Constable Allen said another significant issue was police manning the Launceston Police Headquarters public enquiries office during the day, a job which had been done by two public servants.

One of the public servants was a former policeman found guilty of theft from lost property, who was on leave until his retirement.

"One member counted 180 people who came through in one shift, which is a significant amount," Constable Allen said.

"We call on the senior command to consider what they should be doing about that ASAP."

Mr King said that police had been staffing the counter for the past several months, but management was focused on filling the unsworn vacancies in the enquiries office.

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