Police walking to different beat

THE state government's promised boost to police numbers cannot come soon enough for the understaffed North, according to the police union.

Before the swearing in of cabinet had even begun, the Police Association of Tasmania was reminding the Liberals of their election promises yesterday.

The core policing commitment is an increase of 108 officers, bringing the number of sworn police to 1228.

Association president Pat Allen said resourcing had become a major issue in the North and police morale was suffering in Launceston.

Constable Allen has been told by members that just one police car on average has been available at the central Launceston station in the past month.

"(Management) are saying all these police are available but they're not there," he said.

"No one's blaming local management - they just don't have the troops."

Acting Northern Commander John King disputed the claim but acknowledged there had been recent resourcing issues.

"However, we attend a variety of jobs right through Launceston and we have a variety of resources to call on," he said.

"And there is certainly more than one police car available at any one time."

But the union says Launceston officers are getting tied up in Supreme Court security detail and public inquiries while a domestic violence job can tie up two officers for hours.

Constable Allen yesterday called on Police Minister Rene Hidding to begin boosting numbers immediately in order for specialist squads, such as the cold case unit, to be restored.

"We have families that are still awaiting answers as to why their loved ones were murdered ... the Barker family in Campbell Town to name just one," Constable Allen said.

Shane Barker, 36, was gunned down in his Campbell Town home in 2009 with the murder yet to be solved.

The union said new police should be placed to areas in the following order:

•- Front-line areas such as Launceston watch.

•- Public order response team.

•- Serious and organised crime squad encompassing the cold case unit.

•- High visibility police cars.

Police Commissioner Darren Hine released a statement yesterday saying that planning was under way to increase officer numbers.

Mr Hine said 19 recruits would graduate in May, boosting the force to 1121.

Another recruitment course is scheduled to begin in July and planning is under way for a second course later this, he said.


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