THE state government says it will meet its deadline for deploying Protective Services Officers (PSOs) in Ballarat before the next election, but cannot yet say when it will occur.
The Coalition promised two Victoria Police PSOs would patrol Ballarat railway stations by November this year, however the Labor opposition said time was running out to deliver.
A spokesperson for Police and Emergency Services Minister Kim Wells said the government was still working to deploy 940 PSOs to suburban rail stations and major regional centres at a cost of $212 million.
“Decisions as to when and to which rail stations PSOs are deployed are operational matters entirely within the responsibility of the Chief Commissioner of Police,” the spokesperson said.
“Dates for deployment to the major regional centres of Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong and Traralgon have not been finalised at present.”
Ballarat West Labor MP Sharon Knight said the state government had made a very clear commitment before the last election that PSOs would be in place at Ballarat and Wendouree train stations to walk people to their cars at night.
“The entire Ballarat and Wendouree community are still wanting to know when they will be delivered,” she said.
“If they’re unable to produce a date than that suggests to me that once again the regions have been left out and left until last and treated like second-class citizens.”
Mr Wells this week said there were 586 PSOs deployed to 82 stations across the metropolitan rail network.
He touted the success of the policy, stating that PSOs had issued more than 6000 infringement notices for a range of offences, including being drunk in a public place, graffiti and possession of weapons.
“PSOs have powers to detain anyone who threatens public safety, confiscate weapons and issue fines. They are also trained in conflict resolution.”