A police boss charged with combating crime in regional areas says he’s listening to arguments for more resources to deal with the drug ‘ice.’
Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys’ comments came following the NSW Police Association’s call on Monday for an additional 1185 officers in Police Districts and Commands throughout the State. Within this, they’re asking for 114 police allocated to dedicated units to focus on interrupting supply of the drug and an extra 58 officers for the Hume Police District, which includes Goulburn.
Mr Worboys, the Deputy Commissioner of Regional NSW Field Operations, was in Goulburn last Friday to review the new Police District model.
On Tuesday, he told The Post that he and the police hierarchy were working on future staffing across country NSW and the impact of drugs, particularly ice, was a consideration.
“Ice is in every community across rural NSW and it’s certainly a concern,” he said.
“Every day we are looking at how to target it and put the big dealers before the court. It causes us a lot of angst in terms of crime, the impact on communities, mental health and other workers.”
Mr Worboys said he knew the regional enforcement squads were having an impact and he was interested in further resourcing them.
He stressed that Police Commissioner Mick Fuller was also focused on crime disruption and prevention and was likely to be open to arguments for greater resourcing where it would make a difference.
But ultimately this was a matter for government.
“We’ll put up the strategy documents to government on where the gaps are,” he said.
“Every day we’re trying to fill vacancies to reach maximum capacity but then once you reach it, you have to maintain it. There are also secondments to other areas and (other challenges) to deal with.”
Despite some doubt being cast on the reliability of crime statistics on the weekend, Mr Worboys said police had to take note of the data. In Goulburn Mulwaree, it showed 50 incidents of amphetamine use/possession in the year to June, 2018, an increase of 13 on 2016/17. Goulburn Police also recorded 258 positive roadside tests to ice and cannabis from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. It contrasted with 387 positive results in the previous year.
However, the figures are also governed by resources. The Goulburn Post understands the Goulburn station has run out of secondary testing kits. These are needed to verify the roadside test and if not available, police rely on hospital blood and urine test results. However, the hospital tests firstly require officers to prove the motorist’s manner of driving is affected. The secondary kits remove this burden of proof.
NSW Police Association southern region organiser Ben Buffett said the kits were very expensive.
Mr Worboys told The Post that while this was an issue in some Police Districts several months ago, no one had advised him of further deficiencies.
On the broader issue he said police were actively trying to interrupt supply.
“We see people affected by ice regularly and we have to do our best. It’s two sides – those who provide the market and those who supply it,” he said.
“There are organised gangs out there doing that and police won’t sit back and let it happen.”
But overall he believed Goulburn was a safe community in which people could go about their business without fear of being beset on by a drug affected person.
Meantime, the Goulburn Police Academy has one of its largest intakes in eight years, principal and Superintendent Rod Smith says.
A total 732 students are based at the facility and a further 54 studying online. They will attest in three classes between December and May.
Superintendent Smith said the Academy was at capacity in terms of accommodation.