Police cut and crime up: Who do you call?
THE closure of the Crime Stoppers call centre has combined with cuts in Gympie police resources to create a potentially dangerous combination, political representatives said yesterday.
Gympie police station's communication centre is not being closed down, according to a Queensland Police Service statement, but no-one is there if you call.
Public calls for help are going through Maroochydore, according to some reports.
Ex-police officer and Wide Bay Federal MP Llew O'Brien said police sometimes have grave need of local knowledge from call centre staff.
Gympie State MP Tony Perrett said thousands of calls to PoliceLink were going unanswered.
Mr O'Brien said police on duty, especially late at night, needed all the local knowledge and assistance experienced local staff could provide.
"When I was on my own at Kilkivan station, I found that sometimes the comms staff would recognise the address and could warn you of anything to watch out for,” he said.
A police media statement said Gympie police communications centre was not being closed down, but staff were receiving "training in new technology systems while the Gympie Police Communication Centre is being upgraded.”
"Neither the public nor the police will experience any loss in functionality or service during the training period and people should continue to call 000 in case of emergency, or phone PoliceLink on 131444.”
Mr Perrett said he had called on Police Minister Mark Ryan to provide details on staffing numbers at Gympie region stations.
"I have asked the minister to provide data on our police officer numbers over a number of years at the Gympie, Imbil, Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach stations so we can see what is going on,” Mr Perrett said.
"I am seriously worried about increased crime rates which show assaults, stealing, car theft and fraud have all soared in the last three years,” he said.
"The 2017-18 crime figures have shown big increases.
"Since 2014-15 robberies have skyrocketed a staggering 100 per cent and shop stealing has increased 44 per cent to 1044 offences (a year). Fraud has risen 50 per cent and unlawful use of motor vehicles has increased by 62 per cent.
"Assault is up 28 per cent,” Mr Perrett said.
Mr Perrett said he fears front line police are being overstretched.
"The government has cut police budgets by $44 million in this year's Budget and closed the Crime Stoppers call centre. Last month we learnt there was a 644 per cent increase in calls going unanswered by PoliceLink, meaning 197,648 calls were unanswered.”
Mr O'Brien said he felt for police on the job with difficulties obtaining local advice.