The Cessnock community needs to band together, report crime and write to the powers that be if it wants more police and a new police station, a community meeting on Thursday afternoon has heard.
About 150 people attended the meeting, organised by the Police Association of NSW Cessnock branch, at East Cessnock Bowling Club.
Police Association of NSW Cessnock branch spokesperson Brian Neville said Cessnock police are overworked and understaffed, with tasks such as transporting prisoners to and from Cessnock Correctional Centre, court and hospital, taking them away from core duties.
He said Cessnock needs more police to meet the demand for the workload (dealing with complex issues such as domestic violence and drugs) and a bigger, modern police station to house these police.
Mr Neville said the community needs to write to the Premier and the Police Minister to seek a commitment regarding these wishes.
“Forget about election-eve promises, we need a commitment to our communities now,” he said.
“We need to keep on being vocal.”
The branch organised the meeting in response to concerns that have developed following the NSW Police Force restructure in January.
Mr Neville said he was pleased with the turnout for the meeting and said he hoped the community would remain focused on the issue.
Shadow minister for police and corrective services, Guy Zangari, said Labor will be putting together a comprehensive emergency services package in the coming months, but it would need to be costed.
After hearing the concerns raised at the Cessnock meeting, Mr Zangari said he would like to see a solution to the issue of police transporting prisoners, and better resources for police.
Cessnock MP Clayton Barr said he “desperately” hoped a new police station for Cessnock would be included in this year’s state budget.
“Perhaps then we would have the space that we need to get the boots,” he said.
The prison expansion, drugs, slow response times and the need for more police across the whole LGA (not just Cessnock) were among the concerns raised by speakers and local residents at the meeting.
Mr Barr urged people to report all crime, and write to himself and the police minister Troy Grant regarding any issues.
Mr Barr can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org and Mr Grant’s email address is email@example.com.