BALLARAT has enough police officers, the state’s top cop said yesterday.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay said Ballarat’s recent shortage had been rectified by an influx of officers, but he acknowledged police were in demand across country Victoria.
He recognised Ballarat was in desperate need of police “some time ago”, but that the shortfall had now been met.
In April 2010 a group of Ballarat police officers took the unusual stand of marching from their station to Ballarat East MP Geoff Howard’s office to protest at the lack of police numbers in the city.
However, Mr Lay said that issue had since been resolved.
Speaking at a Rural Press Club breakfast in Melbourne yesterday, he said 850 police officers had been recruited since the Baillieu government came to power in November 2010, of which Ballarat had received a strong portion.
“I’m not hearing from the local superintendent (Andrew Allen) that there is a huge shortage of staff up there,” he said.
“I know that every (police station), particularly large police stations, want more police but the supply is not endless.”
Fifty-two police officers have been deployed to Ballarat in the last 18 months.
The Coalition promises a further 850 across Victoria during its current term to bring the statewide number of recruits to 1700.
It has not yet been announced how many more will come to Ballarat.
“We need to understand what the data says, what the risks are and where we can get the biggest bang for our buck,” Mr Lay said.
Ballarat Police Service Area Superintendent Andrew Allen said there were now more police on the beat, as well as additional resources in the family violence, sexual offence and highway patrol units.
He said Ballarat was currently well served, but would still welcome additional police allocations over the coming years.
“The feedback I’ve got from the Ballarat community is that they have noticed police on the street and are happy with the police presence,” he said.
City of Ballarat councillor Samantha McIntosh, who last year called for more police when 803 residents signed a petition on the issue, said the extra allocations were a good sign for the city.
“We’ve certainly seen an introduction of good numbers and I’m certain we’ll continue to see that,” she said.
“With the growing population there’s always going to be a need.