Concern surrounding policing numbers has prompted the Canberra Liberals to call for the ACT Government to restore police resources in the upcoming budget.
Shadow Police Minister Giulia Jones says the ACT has the smallest police force per capita and without intervention it will continue to decrease.
“There are now 75 fewer frontline police officers than at the beginning of the decade, all the while Canberra’s population has grown by more than 50,000,” Ms Jones says.
She says she receive regular calls from those offices on the frontline and that “being a police officer in Canberra today is exhausting, very stressful and a constant barrage of requests for overtime. It is very similar to what we have in the ambulance service where we don’t have enough ambos either”.
In addition to the loss of frontline officers, Ms Jones also referenced a lack of funding with $15 million cut from police funding in the 2013-14 ACT Budget.
Ms Jones says she would like to see the ACT Government reinstate the $15 million as a matter of urgency, and to restore the number of frontline officers – around 100 more are needed – in the 2019-20 Budget.
An ACT Government spokesperson says the government works closely with ACT Policing to ensure the police force is well resourced and equipped to respond to crime and to keep Canberra safe.
“The ACT is a unique jurisdiction in geographical size, population and with the arrangements in place for the AFP to provide policing services to the ACT. Our frontline ACT Policing numbers are not directly comparable with other states and territories,” the spokesperson says.
“Performance, community satisfaction and crime rates provide a better measure of whether ACT Policing is well resourced. ACT Policing consistently achieves positive results on all of these measures.”
In terms of funding, the spokesperson says a General Savings Measure of 1% was applied across all ACT Government directorates and agencies from 2013-14 to 2016-17, including ACT Policing.
“ACT Policing realised $1.5 million of savings in each year through finding efficiencies in corporate support, operational support functions and supplier expenses,” the spokesperson says.
“During this time, ACT Policing’s appropriation from ACT Government still increased by just over $6 million from $150 million in 2013-14 to $156 million in 2016-17. Funding for ACT Policing has continued to increase over the last two years and the ACT Government has supported a range of new policing initiatives.”
The spokesperson says the ACT Government will “continue to work closely with ACT Policing to identify where to target resourcing, including the size our police force, to maintain Canberra’s low crime rates and ensure we remain one of the safest places to live”.