SWINGING: Member for Bundaberg David Batt.
SWINGING: Member for Bundaberg David Batt. Paul Donaldson BUN201117LNP17

Batt takes swing at minister as 26 cops leave Wide Bay

THE Wide Bay Burnett district lost 26 police officers in the past year.

Data from the 2016-2017 Queensland Police Annual Statistical Review has revealed the Bundaberg Police division saw the biggest decrease in actual strength officers behind the Maryborough division.

The two divisions lost six and 12 officers respectively.

A further five were lost in Gympie, along with two from Biggenden and one from Mount Perry divisions.

But the actual headcount for Wide Bay Burnett District only dropped by 15 police officers, with 11 sworn officers coming in.

Queensland Minister for Police Mark Ryan speaks to the media in Brisbane, Wednesday, August 23, 2017. Queensland Police Dogs are to be issued new protective vests to prevent injury on the job  (AAP Image/Samantha Manchee) NO ARCHIVING
Queensland Minister for Police Mark Ryan speaks to the media in Brisbane, Wednesday, August 23, 2017. Queensland Police Dogs are to be issued new protective vests to prevent injury on the job (AAP Image/Samantha Manchee) NO ARCHIVING SAMANTHA MANCHEE

The 12-month review showed the actual headcount strength in the district decreased from 432 to 417 between June 2016 and June 2017.

Divisions which saw an increase in their sworn officer headcounts were Hervey Bay (5), Wide Bay Burnett District Functions (2) Goomeri (1), Kilkivan (1), Mundubbera (1) and South Kolan (1).

'Wide Bay Burnett District Functions' refers to Bundaberg's access to specialist police services within including, Intelligence, Road Policing, Water Police, Dog Squad, Prosecutions and Scenes of Crime, according to Queensland Police Service.

A spokesperson told the NewsMail actual police strength fluctuated over time due to a number of factors including the "movement, induction and separation of officers, including the temporary allocation of constables that are undergoing their first year training program".

Bundaberg Police Station in Bourbong Street.Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
Bundaberg Police Station in Bourbong Street.Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott BUN090216POLICE6

QPS also said the induction of these first and second year constables was "particularly influential".

"Movement of officers includes promotions and transfers in, out and within the district, and can be officer or management-initiated.

Training centres for first year constables, such as Maryborough, Bundaberg, Gympie and Hervey Bay station will be more prone to fluctuations in strength, as first year constables may be allocated to these centres in the first instance (after being sworn-in) and then be transferred to other centres once they have completed their first year training program."

Where an officer is assigned to complete their training is not necessarily the division they will be stationed at after their first year is up.

The NewsMail's inquiry into police numbers follows Member for Bundaberg David Batt's Question on Notice to Minister for Police and Corrective Services Mark Ryan.

Tabled on April 9, Mr Ryan said the staffing decisions were made based on "operational policing and direct service delivery requirements to ensure a fair and equitable service is provided".

Maryborough Police Station before renovations were conducted in 2016.
Maryborough Police Station before renovations were conducted in 2016. Brendan Bufi

But he also said resource allocation was not a matter for politicians but rather the Commissioner of Police.

Mr Batt told the NewsMail he understood "that the minister (didn't) want to play politics in policing but still (wanted) to know why there (was) a smaller number".

We should be looking for more police, more police will make people feel safer ... More police, more resources.

"Police are retiring or are unfit, we need to bring new recruits through but there's less than when the LNP was in."

Despite the 15-officer reduction (26 taken out and 11 added in), the Wide Bay Burnett District's actual police strength headcount was still above the approved police strength of the district (396) in June 2016 and June 2017.

David Batt MP.
David Batt MP. TAHLIA STEHBENS

According to QPS, 'approved police strength' differs to 'actual police strength' in that the first refers only to the approved number of permanent police positions allocated to a district, while the latter refers to the actual number of officers attached to a district.

There has been no growth in the approved police strength for Wide Bay Burnett District in the current (2017-2018) Financial Year," a QPS spokesperson said.

QPS has yet to make a determination regarding the allocation of police growth for the 2018-2019 Financial Year.

It also said crime levels, population size, traffic statistics, demographic characteristics and projected growth were some of the factors considered when determining where to allocate growth positions.

"(These) may change as new policing issues emerge," a spokesperson said.



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