Victoria Police to deploy more than 700 officers to regional areas and growing suburbs

Published by the Herald Sun on April 25, 2019

Busy regional towns and ­Melbourne’s fast-growing outer suburbs will ­receive hundreds more frontline police from next week.

More than 700 officers will hit the streets during the next 12 months, including a record 207 family violence specialists in a bid to tackle Victoria’s ­biggest crime crisis.

The Herald Sun can reveal 251 general duties officers will boost police ranks in high-needs regions including Geelong, Ballarat, Morwell, Mildura, Swan Hill, Bairnsdale and Sale.

Fast-growing municipalities including Casey, Greater Dandenong, Hume and Melton will also get extra frontline resources.

A further 25 Protective Services Officers will be deployed to priority train stations as part of the allocation.

Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent said the recruits would ease the pressure on resources and help keep Victorians safer.

“Every day and night, police right across the state are working hard to keep people safe,” Mr Nugent said.

“With more police on the beat we have been able to ­arrest hundreds of offenders daily, conduct more police checks in the community and enforce breaches of bail and ­intervention orders in record numbers in order to keep ­victims safe.

“It also means having ­expert teams in place that can provide a specialist capability to investigate complex crimes, gather intelligence and prevent harm in the community.”

Police Minister Lisa Neville and Mr Nugent will today unveil the $11.5 million Centre for Learning for Family Violence.

Mr Nugent said the facility at the Victoria Police Academy would provide crucial training to all ranks to better support victims and hold perpetrators to account.

Family violence was the state’s biggest crime problem, he said.

Last year, family violence accounted for close to 20 per cent of offences recorded by Victoria Police — four times the amount of a decade earlier.

“This means that about every six minutes, a police officer comes into contact with someone who has been the victim of physical or sexual assault, manipulation or abuse of power or control by someone who they trust, often in their own home,” Mr Nugent said.

“Behind every statistic is someone whose life has been profoundly impacted by this heinous crime.”

The family violence specialists will be rolled out statewide and form part of strengthened new Family ­Violence Investigation Units, which will ­include dedicated detectives and intelligence ­experts.

Officers would get “specialised and evidence-based training” to better understand the complexities of family violence, Mr Nugent said.

Ms Neville said the force would stop at nothing to drive down crime in the community.

“We’re investing in Victoria Police by delivering more police to more communities than ever before to ensure our hardworking officers have the equipment, the tools and the training they need to keep the community safe,” she said.

Police Association Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt, who has been critical of police staffing, welcomed the boost.

Mr Gatt has previously called for mandatory minimums in staffing at Victorian police stations to ease the strain on frontline resources.

This month a 55-year-old Gisborne man charged with murder found the local police station shut when he went there to hand himself in.

The extra 709 officers is the second allocation of 2729 officers funded through the state government’s community safety statement.

In 2018, 825 officers were deployed across the state.