Lay moves to take police from the beat http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/lay-moves-to-take-police-from-the-beat-20140526-38zok.html The state's top cop wants to cut the number of police officers on the beat as part of a radical overhaul of Victoria Police. Under the plan, police would move from local stations and crime would increasingly be tackled through specialist taskforces. Chief Commissioner Ken Lay recently revealed explosive details of his new ''blue paper'' at a Rotary Club dinner in Wangaratta, warning that the number of front-line officers in the regional city could be halved over the next decade. ''Don't expect that in 10 years' time that you'll see 60 uniform people in Wangaratta - you won't,'' he said at the event on May 15. ''You might only see 30 people, but you'll see taskforces, you'll see lawyers, you'll see financial analysts, you'll see chemists, you'll see the people who can actually help us do the really, really difficult policing.'' A day before the event, Mr Lay told a parliamentary budget hearing the organisation was moving police away from stations. He said putting additional officers into police stations did not always curb crime. ''Four or five years ago when we actually put the additional police into police stations we found that we were starting to lose control of things like deceptions, the ice, the family violence issue,'' he said. ''So the decision was made to not put these as people driving divisional vans but to use a model … [that] could address these very difficult and complex issues, which often required us to put police at the regional level or at the divisional level.'' The Chief Commissioner's comments put him on a collision course with the Police Association, which recently called on the state government to recruit an extra 1700 front-line officers. Recent figures have shown a drop in officers working at some Victorian stations. Police Association secretary Ron Iddles said front-line officers had to take priority. ''If you don't have the foundations right, you're going to get cracks in the wall,'' Detective Senior Sergeant Iddles said. ''Serving the community has to come first.'' He said Mr Lay had committed five more officers to Geelong, after a union rally by off-duty police in the city last week. The union had argued that front-line officer numbers in Geelong were grossly inadequate. Opposition police spokesman Wade Noonan said the Chief Commissioner seemed keen to ''move away from the failed law and order policies of the Napthine government''. A spokeswoman for Police Minister Kim Wells pointed to a statement from the minister last week that said the Chief Commissioner was responsible for making decisions on the allocation of additional officers. He said the government was on track to meet its election promise of an extra 1700 front-line police officers by November. /end article Some of the responses make for interesting reading. And he has written a follow-up, also in The Age. Ken Lay responds to The Age http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/ken-lay-responds-to-the-age-20140527-391wa.html 'Chief to cut police on the beat' – an explosive headline in today's Age, and one which needs to be properly understood. Yes, Victoria Police is thinking to the future, and how it needs to evolve if it is to keep pace with the changing world. But let me be absolutely clear: Victoria Police is fundamentally and at every level a community policing organisation. We simply can not fulfil our mission of keeping Victorians safe without a strong footprint in local communities. But that is not to say a police force can stand idly by and ignore the many pressing challenges that can not be confronted by putting all our resources into police stations and uniformed patrols. Society is changing at an extraordinary pace. This provides new opportunities for crime to prosper, and Victoria Police must keep up with the change if it is to successfully confront and pacify those drivers of crime that cause the most harm. This is not Victoria Police being fanciful. It is my absolute obligation to the community to ensure Victoria Police is thinking to the future, and taking the steps necessary to modernise the force. The Blue Paper is not a strategy or a plan. It is a guide to what the future of Victoria Police might look like, based on significant research, which will take account of how society is changing, and pose a number of questions about how Victoria Police must adapt in order to ensure it continues to provide the most effective service possible. At its heart is the need for police to modernise. The model that we've had for the last 161 years needs to be re-examined. It's a history of allocating police according to population, not crime rates or emerging crime trends. It's also a geographic spread of police station locations based on nineteenth century patterns – a day's horse ride between them. We need to build greater flexibility into the way we deploy our resources. That is why we are now allocating police numbers at larger geographic 'divisional' level so that police commanders have the freedom to move police officers from town to town as and when needed. In addition, we also need more dedicated, specialist taskforces that can help police tackle the greatest drivers of harm. Challenges such as organised crime, family violence and the destructive prevalence of Ice in the community are not going to be solved through traditional policing alone. We need to work smarter. We need to be responsive. And we need better technology that allows police to work better in the field. What does more responsive mean? We've gone from seven family violence teams across the state in 2011 to 30 teams today. These teams have been established using police from across the state, and without them we wouldn't have the subject matter experts working with support services to break the cycle of violence for victims. Similarly, the massive increase in online offending demands a significant escalation in our digital capabilities so we can track and apprehend those who would groom children for sexual abuse, commit fraud on a massive scale, or bully, abuse and blackmail victims. Organised crime is another considerable challenge for Victoria Police. Outlaw motorcycle gangs are no respecters of state or national boarders. They are well resourced, and organised. This demands a sophisticated approach from police, working with their partners nationally and globally to intercept the flow of weapons and drugs into Victoria which can cause so much harm once on the streets of our towns and cities. The future of Victoria Police must be about providing a service. A visible, accessible and mobile police force that is in the community, not stuck behind a desk. The Blue Paper is almost complete, and will be shared with the community in the coming weeks when we will discuss these issues in greater detail. Ken Lay /end article Does this tie in with further reductions in the use of marked traffic vehicles, and further reliance on automated traffic infringement detection methods? Seems to me it must, if Police manpower resources are to be more concentrated away from "putting all our resources into police stations and uniformed patrols".