By Victoria Stone-Meadows
Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy and Bass MP Brain Paynter are calling for a new police station in Clyde, despite Victoria Police and the Police Association agreeing a new station in the area isn’t a priority.
Mr Guy and Mr Paynter met with Casey Neighbourhood Watch chairman Rob Ward at the Clyde Recreation Reserve on Thursday 16 February to discuss a new police station in the area.
Mr Paynter first called on the State Government to build a new police station in Clyde in August last year.
He said that despite the recent rise in crime in the Clyde area, the current State Government had been reluctant to tackle the problem and had left local police under-resourced.
“We all know and have heard many times that crime in Victoria is out of control and the State Government need to be doing something about it, especially in the south-east growth areas,” he said.
“This is a classic example of an area that was previous paddocks but is now full of residents and our crime stats are up over 52 per cent in this area and we see the government doing nothing.
“What we need is a fully manned police station in Clyde to meet the growing demands of the residents.”
However, a Victoria Police spokesperson said in a statement to Star News that 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.”
Newly appointed Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt said the priority of both sides 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.”
Opposition Leader Mr Guy said his party was dedicated to providing more police stations in growth areas of the state.
“The Liberal Party is committed to keeping Victorian safe and if that means new facilities in growth areas than that is what we will do,” he said.
“This state has a crime wave like we have never seen before, in our cities and in our suburbs; and that means we need more police and we need to stop closing police stations.”
The Andrews government announced last year a recruitment drive of over 3000 new police officers, but Mr Guy said it was too little too late.
“Those police won’t come for two or three years when they need to come now,” he said.
“That is why we have been calling for more police for the last two years, particularly for areas like Casey.”
Casey Neighbourhood Watch chairman Rob Ward said while he wasn’t involved in the politics of the issue, he believed the police in Casey needed the support of another station in Clyde.
“The issue is while we can put more police in Casey, there is nowhere to put them; the stations are all full and were built too small,” he said.
“Things have to change and police need more resources and we need changes to the system, both are necessary and we need both short-term changes and a long-term response to the issue.”
“Neighbourhood Watch is not a political organisation but we will challenge any side of politics to ensure the police are resourced and the proper laws are in place.”