Woodend station reopened, police resource worries remain

Published by Macedon Ranges Leader on May 13, 2019

Woodend police station will reopen after being “effectively shut” for the better part of two years, but concerns remain about resourcing across the Macedon Ranges.

The news comes weeks after a man attended Gisborne police station to hand himself in following a death, only to find it shut.

Officers in Kyneton were notified and a Gisborne sergeant was able to arrest the man who has since been charged with one count of murder.

Macedon Ranges Inspector Chris Large confirmed a “mixture of resources” across the division allowed Woodend station to reopen from May 12.

“Woodend will be effectively operating for full-time hours,” he said.

“We’re really pleased to say it will effectively fully operational. It’ll be close to fully staffed.”

Police Association Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt said the association had asked Victoria Police “to enable our members to do their jobs safely and provide adequate resources to the community”.

“The reality is, that when we get to a point where we’re rationalising resources in such a manner from across a response zone, it significantly impacts member safety and it impacts the ability for police to respond in a timely way,” he said.

News comes on the back of Victoria Police’s decision to deploy 709 officers across the state. The Bendigo division, covering the Macedon Ranges, will share an extra highway patrol officer and five family violence specialists.

The Macedon Ranges Police Service Area will also receive one additional officer.

Western Region Division 5 Superintendent John Kearney said the Macedon Ranges PSA had experienced some “staffing challenges in recent times, particularly around Woodend and Macedon with a number of officers on personal leave”.

“Patrol units from Gisborne and Kyneton continue to provide a regular visible presence in and around Woodend and Macedon as part of routine proactive patrols,” he said.

“We want to reassure the Woodend community that during this period they have continued to receive a 24-hour police response.”

Concerns about police resources were also raised in Romsey, with more than 1000 people signing two petitions for a 24-hour police station.

Kristi Gilbert, who started the first petition last year, said fears were heightened after a string of business break-ins.

“Romsey is growing quite quickly. We’ve got new estates and it brings new people to the town,” she said.

“People are becoming more aware that we’re a weak spot for police activity overnight.”

Insp Large his role was to use existing resources across the police service area “as effectively as we can”.

“Any determination on future numbers at Romsey hasn’t been made yet,” he said.