Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison MP has criticised the NSW Berejiklian Government for once again failing to deliver on its promises to protect the people of the Maitland region.
Not one new probationary constable has been tasked to the Maitland District amongst the latest recruits, and Maitland is still 3 officers short of the 10 police that were promised to the community after pressure from the local Police Association, Ms Aitchison and a petition from local people. Four months after the re-engineering, only 7 of the 10 promised officers have been attached to Maitland.
Ms Aitchison still maintains the community requires another 10 police, to meet the 20 new officers originally requested by the Police Association. Ms Aitchison supported the Police Association’s call last year during the re-engineering process, as her own analysis of BOCSAR figures, based on geographic, demographic, and crime rate information showed the Maitland Command was under strength compared to other Hunter commands. This was confirmed in conversations with Senior Police at the State Level.
While Ms Aitchison is pleased there are 234 new officers on NSW streets she remains concerned that Maitland is being forgotten by the Government, especially as domestic violence rates remain above the State average. At a Maitland Community Precinct Meeting last week, community representatives were told that Maitland’s Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) Application Rates were the highest in the State over the last two months. While other areas may have had higher incidences, the application rates, which require extensive efforts by the police are highest in Maitland.
Further to this, since the beginning of the year, Maitland’s local Police have been working hard to contain outlaw motorcycle organisation violence, with some 7 incidents in the first 2 months of the year. Maitland Police have participated in local and state task forces to address them.
Last week after a visit by the Shadow Minister for Police, Guy Zangari MP at the request of Ms Aitchison, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter made several misleading statements disparaging Ms Aitchison’s advocacy for greater police numbers in Maitland (see below).
Ms Aitchison has been a fierce advocate for greater police numbers in Maitland, and police have told her of the struggles they face with often facing multiple life threatening situations going on at the same time with limited crews to address them.
While the two year trend in the latest release of BOCSAR statistics may have remained stable, domestic violence has increased over the last five years, and in 2016, was the third fastest electorate for increasing domestic violence rates across the state. The community has been mobilised over the last three years with some of the most horrific domestic violence homicides in the state’s history, with a man receiving a 37 year sentence for the brutal killing of his 12 year old stepdaughter in Aberglasslyn in 2015. The girl’s mother, herself a victim of domestic violence, was given a four year sentence after pleading guilty to manslaughter. In the same week in 2015, a woman was hit in the head with a hammer by her partner in Maitland.
With only 7 of the 10 promised police officers from the re-engineering having made their way to Maitland, and no new recruits in sight for the city, the Parliamentary Secretary is clearly misleading the Maitland community yet again, and failing to keep promises.
The NSW Government closed the Beresfield Police Station to active police work despite promising not to do so at the 2011 election, taken away the police residence at the Lochinvar Police Station and has moved the command centre of the re-engineered Port Stephens Hunter Command away from Maitland to Raymond Terrace.
MacDonald’s comments highlight how out of touch this Government is with the needs of the Maitland region and displays the Berejiklian Government’s signature lack of focus on anything besides her Sydney-Centric Stadiums policy. Mr MacDonald is clearly misleading the community about the level of policing and should do his job and advocate for the Hunter to the Government.
Comments attributable to Jenny Aitchison MP, Shadow Minister for Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
“The Parliamentary Secretary held a crime forum in Gillieston Heights in 2017 to support the local government campaign of Mayoral Candidate Bob Geoghegan, so what’s changed since then? Domestic violence rates have increased, bikie gang violence has increased, the command headquarters has been moved to Port Stephens, and 30% of the promised new officer positions haven’t been filled.
“Clearly Mr MacDonald is not in touch with the community, and they see him as ineffective in advocating for our community. He doesn’t live in the Hunter, he lives in Guyra. It’s just more evidence that the Berejiklian Government doesn’t care about our Hunter community.”
“Mr MacDonald should get his facts right, and advocate for the people of Maitland. Our population has topped 80,000 and we are the fastest growing community outside of Sydney since the last census. We have the highest Domestic Violence rates, and we haven’t even received our promised officers. We need more police on the ground!”