THE region’s police officers have renewed calls for change with prisoner transport as the impacts of time away from the station flow onto the community.
Led by the NSW Police Association, the calls are to shift responsibility for prisoner transport back to NSW Corrective Services to allow police more time to serve their areas and less time transporting prisoners.
Across the region, officers are tasked with escorting prisoners to and from court and to jail, taking them away their regular duties.
Police Association executive member Sergeant Michael Buko said the community’s support would be needed to influence change.
“Cops should be out there doing their job, not out there transporting people around as a taxi service,” Sergeant Buko said.
“We really need support from everyone to get this transport issue resolved as it affects virtually every regional police station in the state.
“By transporting prisoners around, it takes us away from the community and being there to support them, so it really is time for us to resolve this issue.”
Sergeant Buko said the association would consider taking action if a resolution was not found soon.
“We have been pretty stern on this issue for a long time and the time frame surrounding a resolution will be closing very soon,” he said.
“Everyone within the state government has been aware of this issue for a long time and we are really hoping that our local political representatives will talk about it and take action.”
Gunnedah’s Leading Senior Constable Damien Wood said it was an issue that affected his station regularly.
“We are not the experts in this matter, Corrective Services are the experts, and we would like to see them take over in this matter,” Leading Senior Constable Damien Wood said.
“Honestly, we just want to be here serving the Gunnedah community.”
The Leading Senior Constable said the transporting responsibilities often caused the Gunnedah Police Station to be undermanned.
“I think people within the community know that they can sometimes expect a delay, especially during court weeks where we are very busy looking after people in custody,” he said.
“We are also looking to get an administrative officer for Gunnedah to be on hand to answer any phone calls or counter inquiries.
“Currently if we are called away to a job, we often have to lock the station door because there isn’t anyone here.
“That would be a decision from our police region, but I believe we need it and our station certainly warrants it.”