Police at risk from fatigue

THE police union fears  some members of the Launceston Uniform Division are close to breaking point because of a lack of resources, which might lead to mistakes on the job.

Police command however, said that in recent months Launceston Police Division has had vacancies that had required a more flexible approach to resourcing some frontline positions.

Northern Acting Commander John King said the arrival of seven recruits in Launceston this month had addressed a ``significant proportion'' of the vacancies, while more graduates would also boost numbers in early May.

``In the interim period, Launceston police management will continue to deploy suitable resources as required,'' he said.

The Police Association of Tasmania met Northern command on Friday to discuss members' concerns.

President Pat Allen said the meeting was very productive, while deputy vice-president Robert Cooke said senior management recognised the issues and would work with the union to address them.

Constable Allen said the overall feeling among Launceston members was that the previous government's cuts to the force were to blame for the resourcing problems.

He has had telephone discussions with staff from the incoming government and hopes to meet them as soon as possible.

The Liberals have promised to restore police numbers to what they were before the cuts and to re-establish specialised units that had also been slashed.

Sergeant Cooke said Launceston Uniform Division members had reported bad physical and mental fatigue because of short-staffed shifts, being overburdened and working excessive hours.

Constable Allen said the problem had started during the past 12 months at least, but Sergeant Cooke said things had worsened since Christmas.

``They have reached a certain point where some members feel that if the situation continues, there will be a breaking point where they will not be able to continue to function as effectively as they should, because they are fatigued through overwork,'' Sergeant Cooke said.

Constable Allen said Northern police lacked the capabilities of their Southern colleagues, but remained resilient.

``If things are not fixed reasonably quickly, we have some angry members up this way who will not let us rest on our laurels about that,'' he said.

``It's about the safety of our members and of the public.''

 Email ctang@examiner.com.au

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