Victoria Police has been accused of abandoning Caroline Springs, where pressure on officers and the community is described as “unreal”.
The divvy van based at the Caroline Springs station can spend up to 75 per cent of its time backing up units in Melton or being tied up at hospitals where officers “babysit” ice-affected criminals waiting to see mental health staff.
A Victoria Police officer, speaking to Star Weekly on the condition of anonymity, highlighted the plight of colleagues and pleaded with Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton to support police officers in Caroline Springs and Melton.
“Please have a look at our resources, please help our members in outer suburbs because it won’t be long before they start falling down,” the officer said.
Under-staffing is one of the biggest issues in Caroline Springs, according to the officer, while violent ice addicts and domestic violence perpetrators are increasing the police workload.
“There’s no staff,” the officer said. “The pressure on the members is unreal. In all the years I’ve been in the job, I’ve never seen it like what it is now. We’ve got members doing anywhere between 10 and 20 hours’ overtime [in a fortnight].
“We help the community, but it feels as though we’re being left out. Where’s our welfare support?”
The officer questioned how well Victoria Police was allocating resources.
There were “hundreds of coppers” patrolling the streets in Melbourne’s CBD but only two divvy vans covering 527 square kilometres across Melton and Caroline Springs, the officer said.
He said the chief commissioner should “look at redistributing police officers” to the urban fringes.
“The Operational Response Unit – where are those members when we need them?” he asked. “They’re not in our suburbs.”
Star Weekly asked Victoria Police if it considered under-resourcing and staffing in the Melton police service areas as a priority.
In a statement, police spokeswoman Danielle Fleeton said the organisation recognised the concerns around police numbers in Melton and in other growth areas of Victoria.
“We continually monitor crime statistics and emerging trends to identify areas most in need of additional resources,” Ms Fleeton said.
Crime in the 3023 postcode, which includes Caroline Springs and Ravenhall, increased by more than eight per cent to 4561 in the 12 months to December, 2015, according to the latest Crime Statistics Agency data.
Taylors Hill Safety Committee chairman Ian Herbert said he would be raising under-staffing issues concerning the Caroline Springs police station at the group’s next meeting.
“We agree they need more police, but it’s obviously a [Victoria] Police issue,” Mr Herbert said.
“All we can do as a committee to get more police is to raise it, but we’re in the hands of the police commissioner.”