Thin blue line strengthened by review

  • Clem Simich

A hundred and twenty police officers will be added to the frontline by the Police Review, approved by the Government today.

This brings to 6909 the total number of sworn police officers who'll be on active duty by 30 June 2000 - the highest number ever.

These extra frontline staff will help refocus policing back onto communities, which is the overall aim of the Review, Police Minister Clem Simich said today.

"It's about adding strength to the police frontline to reduce crime, making communities safer," he said.

The Review will streamline Police administration by reorganising its management and administrative structures, and shifting resources from the back office to the frontline.

Police National Headquarters will become a smaller Office of the Commissioner. The entire regional management layer will go, and the number of Police districts will reduce from 16 to 12.

The work of some administrative areas will also be contracted out over the next three years, freeing up even more resources for the frontline.

"The aim of the Review is to cut down the Police bureaucracy, creating a closer relationship between the Commissioner and his District Managers," said Mr Simich.

"This means Police can put their resources where they can best serve the public. Police will be able to pursue their community oriented policing strategy even more vigorously."

"We're winning the fight against crime, but now we want even more points on the board."

"Every organisation has to reorganise from time to time to ensure it doesn't get bogged down in bureaucracy at the expense of the wider goal," said Mr Simich.

"I want a more modern Police that provides the quality of service the public not only pay for, but expect."

Mr Simich also complimented Police Commissioner Peter Doone on the effort he'd taken to discuss the implications of the Review with his staff, unions and other interested parties.

"That input has enabled us to preserve the best aspects of the current structure, while still achieving our objective of a modern and more effective service."

Around 380 uniformed and civilian jobs will be lost, mostly employed in management, administrative and support roles at Police National Headquarters, and both regional and district offices around the country.

Ninety five of the 380 are uniformed positions, and will be taken out of the back office. A hundred and twenty new uniformed positions will be created in the frontline. Some of the 95 may choose to be redeployed, so it's too early to say how many new recruits will result.

Mr Simich has also asked the Commissioner to report back to him next month about the detail and timing for contracting out some administrative and support areas.

The Government will also be seeking to strengthen the Minister of Police's ability to monitor more closely Police resourcing and general administration. The Government expects to hear back on this issue by the end of November.

The Minister assured the public it was business as usual while the changes were implemented. "Many of the changes brought about by the Review are behind the scenes," he added.

"It's all about changing the way Police do things so the public gets a better service."