By Victoria Stone-Meadows
Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy and Member for Bass Brian Paynter will meet in Clyde to renew a push for the State Government to build a police station in the area.
The two parliamentary members are meeting at the Clyde Recreation Reserve on Thursday 16 February to call on the government to fund the new station.
Mr Paynter first called for a police station in Clyde during parliament in August last year citing population growth and increase in crime for why a new police station is necessary.
He said members of the Clyde community, which sits in the far north-west of the division of Bass, have contacted him many times to address the crime rate in the region.
“Following several shocking crimes in the local community, constituents repeatedly tell me they want a visible police presence,” he said.
“With fewer frontline police now than November 2014 across Victoria, growth areas such as Clyde urgently need more police and the stations to accommodate them.”
“With thousands of extra residents moving into the area every year while crime continues to grow, it’s clear the region needs a lot more police.”
However, a spokesperson from Victoria Police said there were no plans to build a police station in the Clyde area.
“Police stations are buildings that do not deter crime while police out in the community and tasked to areas based on intelligence does deter criminal activity,” the spokesperson said.
“The Chief Commissioner has acknowledged that growth corridors are a priority, of which Casey is one.”
“When the new resources are supplied to communities across the state, we will have them on the road detecting crime and keeping people safe rather than sitting at police stations.”
The Victorian Police Association agrees that there needs to be a stronger police presence in growth areas such as Clyde as a priority over building new stations.
Incoming Police Association Secretary Wayne Gatt said the priority of both side of government should be more police members rather than new stations.
“While we see merit in having a new stations service growing communities of the future, the priority for the ‘here and now’ is getting new police into the area so that they can positively impact on crime,” Mr Gatt said.
“As one of the fastest growing local government areas in the country and with one of the worst police-to-population ratios, we’ve been saying for a long time that the City of Casey desperately needs more police.”
The Victorian Government announced last year funding for the recruitment of more than 3000 new police officers with Casey being a priority area to place more officers.
On Tuesday 14 February at a door stop in Pakenham, Premier Daniel Andrews said the new police recruits will be a constant benefit to growth communities.
“The academy is full and we’ve changed the way police recruit,” he said.
“Now each month, every month, every year we will have a steady amount going through the academy.”
“We realised there was a need for a more routine, regular recruitment process and it’s a challenge but we will get them through the academy.”
The Police Association’s Wayne Gatt echoed the premier’s sentiment to ensure the new police officers are delivered to the communities that need them most.
“The Police Association is committed to ensuring that the extra 3000 police promised by the State Government over the next five years are deployed as a matter of priority to areas of greatest need, such as in Casey,” he said.
“Getting boots on the ground to assist our members in existing stations must be a priority.”
However, Mr Paynter says he is just as committed to campaigning for a new police station as a means of dealing with the crime in the region.
“I’ll continue to campaign for my constituents until this police station is delivered,” he said.
“Community safety must be the first priority of any government, but unfortunately Daniel Andrews has had his head in the sand for the last two years while crime in Casey spirals out of control.”