COPS IN CRISIS

EXCLUSIVE

Melton police say it’s only a matter of time before an officer or member of the public is seriously injured or killed as the station grapples with an increasing and dangerous workload.

Back-up can be at least 25 minutes away for officers dealing with violent and drug-affected criminals, while supervisors say they regularly have to put serious jobs on hold because they “simply have no units to attend”.

Describing the situation as a crisis, Melton police have gone public with their plight for the first time, pleading with Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton to give them more officers and resources.

RELATED: ‘HELP MELTON GET MORE POLICE’

“We’re never going to get the 100-odd police [Melton] apparently needs to keep up with the population, but we need more units on the road,” one officer said in an email to the Police Association obtained by Star Weekly.

Meanwhile, another admitted he could not give the public the attention they deserved “because I don’t have the time”.

In more than a dozen emails seen by Star Weekly, Melton officers raise issues about low police numbers, onerous workloads and over-worked officers, saying they’re “forced to take short-cuts, [jeopardising] everyone’s safety”.

“All the sergeants in our office know that one day it’s going to blow up in our faces with the jobs we put on hold,” one wrote.

“Someone will get killed and [the public] will be looking at us for answers. We try the best we can to get to the jobs and deal with them.”

Melton numbers below state average

Police Association secretary Ron Iddles said there were 76 first-response officers in Melton, well below the state average.

An additional 55 were needed to be on par with the average police-to-population ratio and a further 81 in order to keep up with the population growth.

Mr Iddles said officers had reached out to the association in the past month because they were “at breaking point”.

“You know you need to be concerned when you get calls from the police officer’s partner, pleading for us to help them,” he said.

“Members and their families turn to us only as a last resort when others have stopped listening.”

Mr Iddles said an “enormous growth corridor” and rising crime coupled with low police numbers created the “perfect storm” in Melton.

“Police officers are working harder, going to more tasks and working large amounts of overtime,” he said. “They are confronting increasingly dangerous situations with fewer people.

“It’s only a matter of time before one of our members, or a member of the community, is endangered or injured as a result.”

New Police postings ‘to be determined’

When Star Weekly asked Victoria Police if there were plans to recruit more officers to Melton and when deployment would begin, spokeswoman Danielle Fleeton said Victoria Police would be working to determine where the additional 300 frontline police, recently announced by the state government, would be deployed.

“The additional 300 police will be deployed to respond to local crime issues, such as drugs, high-volume crime and antisocial behaviour,” she said.

“They will be a welcome addition to areas experiencing high population growth and high volumes of crime. We expect these police to start appearing in stations from early 2017.”

But Melton officers feel frustrated and helpless.

“We are fighting an endless battle,” one wrote in his email. [It’s] a battle where we don’t have enough members, we don’t have enough vehicles, we don’t have enough computers to get our job done. How would the public feel knowing such a large organisation who are meant to be protecting them don’t have enough staff to do that?”