ARMIDALE Regional Council will push the state government to stop diverting local police away from regular duties to transport prisoners.
The motion for council to call on the state governing body to “properly fund and resource” the Department of Justice was unanimously supported at Wednesday’s meeting in Guyra.
It comes in the wake of a public campaign by Armidale’s branch of the the NSW Police Association (PANSW) pushing against police officers being required to escort prisoners across the state.
Armidale branch chair Chris Jordan said New England communities were being left with no first response vehicle to respond to incidents – sometimes for hours at a time. He added sector police or officers from other stations were being called to provide back-up.
“It’s at the expense of the community … each community has its own unique stories but as a collective, it is really impacting us," Mr Jordan said. “This is an lifetime opportunity for us to make real changes for now and the future.”
On the council’s support, Mr Jordan said he was “really happy”.
“The biggest thing is that the motion was passed unanimously by council,” he said.
The matter is currently before the state’s Industrial Relations Commission (IRC).
"This is an occasion when our local government can fulfill their really important role,” Councillor Debra O’Brien said.
“Council must call on the state government to properly fund the Department of Justice so prisoner escorts are conducted by Corrective Services.
“This has been going on way too long. When lack of funding leaves our communities not safe, then it really is an important responsibility of council to speak up.”
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall welcomed council’s support on the matter.
“There is absolutely no doubt that our police are unfairly and unjustly overburdened with prisoner transfers,” he said.
“Our police are not trained to be glorified taxi drivers. They are trained to serve and protect our communities and our communities rightly expect that their local officers, when on duty, be working in and covering the community.
“This matter is now before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission and next week there will be a high level meeting between Corrections and Police to try to find a solution to dramatically improve the situation.”