River divide for North's policing

POLICING in the North will be divided along the Tamar River under a new structure announced by Commissioner Darren Hine yesterday.

Under the new model, police in the West Tamar will report to the Deloraine district, while the George Town district, which now includes the West Tamar, will begin at the eastern bank and extend down to St Helens.

Many changes confirmed yesterday had already been foreshadowed by police.

They include merging the George Town and East Coast police districts, removing the inspector from St Helens, and closing the Lilydale police station.

Northern Commander Richard Cowling said he would meet affected councils soon.

"It was like that many years ago, so we are going back to a model that we know works," he said.

Eight police positions - an inspector, two sergeants and five constables - will be dropped from the North under the new structure, reducing it to a workforce of 243.

Mr Cowling said some of those positions were already vacant, and others would be made vacant through natural attrition.

He said the number of uniformed police on the watch in Launceston had not been reduced, and the removal of police from prisoner escort duty at the Launceston Magistrates Court duty meant those police were able to focus on front-line duties.

Statewide changes include the loss of 36 police positions and the creation of new super- departments in each district: the Road and Public Order Services, Community Support Services and Crime and Drug Operation.

Risdon Vale station will be closed, and Oatlands, Strahan, Rosebery and Zeehan will be reduced to "country stations" and staffed only intermittently.

Police Association president Randolph Wierenga said the restructure was a "smokescreen" for further job losses.

"Unless the government revises the forward estimates for 2013 and 2014, then there are going to be further cuts," Sergeant Wierenga said.


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