Anti-terrorism policies that have been legislated to improve the safety of policemen in the hands of terrorist individuals have ironically led to reduced safety for community denizens. In this piece, we explain what the problem is, and what the solution could be.
Recently, police stations around Victoria have begun implementing anti-terrorist laws that forbade cops from working alone. From now on, there has to be at least two policemen on every beat. This has given rise to an unprecedented amount of staff shortages in police stations, which have reduced the number of working hours to half.
Police stations in Colac and Kilmore, for instance, are working reduced hours, and are finding it harder than before to patrol the streets like they used to, and also to respond to calls from distressed citizens. This comes on the back of Acting Chief Commissioner Tim Cartwright’s statement that anti-terrorism laws are going to have consequences of a logistical nature for policemen.
At that time he said that these consequences could not be predicted and would have to be waited for, it looks like they have arrived now. What it basically means it that if more cops are needed per beat, there will be less beats than they were before.
The other solution to the problem is to increase cop numbers, something that Victoria Police Association secretary Ron Iddles has been fighting for futilely for a while. Last year, he called for 1880 new policemen by 2018, but this year’s budget will see just 15 police recruited and sent to the Bellarine and Geelong areas.
This anti-terror law was designed to give an extra layer of safety to policemen: the theory is that if you’re in a team of two, someone has your back. Now, a consequence of this increased safety to cops could ironically result in lesser safety to members of the community. It is this balance that will need looking into, and the law will be revised after a six-week period.
What is causing extra burden to policemen is the relentless rise in population numbers in Victoria as well. Another solution is to train ‘custody officers’ who will team up with full policemen, but even custody officers need money and resources to be trained.
So if in the next few weeks you see less police cars on the road, you know why.