Police Minister Lisa Neville has thrown her support behind the potential presence of PSOs in the Bridge Mall and Little Bridge Street after the opposition made the pledge earlier this month.
Three weeks ago opposition police spokesman Edward O’Donohue revealed to The Courier PSOs would be stationed in the shopping precinct between 11am and 7pm seven-days-a-week if a Matthew Guy-led Coalition government was elected.
“The introduction of PSO patrols to Little Bridge Street, and the Bridge Mall, will ensure people feel safe again,” Mr O’Donohue said at the time. “People in Ballarat deserve to feel safe going about their daily lives.”
Speaking at the launch of Victoria Police’s new Ballarat-based hotline on Wednesday morning, Ms Neville said she supported PSOs operating in the precinct, however it would be up to Victoria Police to allocate resources to the precinct.
Legislation introduced in May 2017 broadened the role of PSOs from patrolling at train stations to other transport centres and crime hot spots.
“I think police need to have the option to deploy the PSOs to other transport hubs and that’s why we changed the legislation,” Ms Neville said. “I think it’s the police who need to work out if it’s better for police to be there (or) PSOs and how best to use them.”
Western Victoria MP Joshua Morris said “Labor's refusal to commit to PSOs in Little Bridge Street and the Bridge Mall is further evidence of their failure to address the law and order crisis we’re facing in Ballarat”.=
The minister also confirmed Ballarat would have 10 new specialist family violence police officers by mid-2019, the first of which have just been deployed.
The city is also getting three new frontline police and a crime investigation unit officer, while 32 new police will be part of the 24-hour hotline when up and running next year in addition to the 200 call centre jobs based within Federation University.
“This specialist family violence commitment we’re making...will not only free up officers who are already doing this work, but also provide a better service for those people who are victims,” Ms Neville said.