Cessnock Police Station received a visit from one of the highest-ranking officers in the state on Thursday.
NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Gary Worboys was in the area to see, first hand, the effects of the recent shake-up of Local Area Commands.
Under the statewide restructure, that came into effect on January 14 this year, the former Central Hunter Command – which comprised Cessnock and Maitland police – was split.
Cessnock joined the Hunter Valley Police District (which also includes Singleton and Muswellbrook), while Maitland became part of the Port Stephens-Hunter district.
Deputy Commissioner Worboys said one of the main areas of improvement identified in his review, was making sure local police were adequately supported by administrative frameworks.
“We know that there’s a little bit more work there to do and we always knew that would happen,” he said.
“[I had] a great conversation with the District Manager today about how we can better support the front counter, rostering, our HR principles going forward, finances and those sorts of things.
When it comes to successes though, Deputy Commissioner Worboys added there had been many, not least of which the announcement, in June, of a new police station for Cessnock.
“What a fantastic achievement out of re-engineering for the people of Cessnock and the police here that is something that we can really look forward to as a hub of service delivery,” he said.
He added that the installation of a dedicated Officer-In-Charge at every police station, the establishment of a target action group in Cessnock to combat illegal drug distribution, and a sharper focus on perpetrator accountability in domestic violence cases were other big wins under the new model.
“A high risk domestic violence team was created out of re-engineering. It’s an integral part of the space here around domestic violence,” he said.
“We know that previously we’ve done enormous amounts with victim support, but the high risk domestic violence teams that are in here in Cessnock and also in Maitland, and fringe out from there, are about perpetrator accountability which we think that we’re now starting to get right.
“People who commit domestic violence, its a crime, they need to be put before the courts. We need to support victims, for sure, but re-engineering has seen a strong presence around perpetrator accountability in domestic violence.”
Recently-appointed Hunter Valley district commander Acting Superintendent Chad Gillies echoed Deputy Commissioner Worboys’ sentiments.
“What you’ll see from me, it’s a passion of mine, that we will have a very consistent approach to domestic violence investigations, making sure, where possible offenders are going before the courts but, importantly looking after the victims,” he said.
“It is important that we keep encouraging our victims to come forward. The main cause of homelessness for women and children is domestic violence, so it is a huge issue for society and we as the police have a very important role to play.”
Deputy Commissioner Worboys added that he was also working to ensure that stations were adequately staffed and that local police had the tools necessary to do their job effectively.
“In my position, I constantly work with the NSW Police Association and the Public Service Association, around their members and the gaps that they see,” he said.
“We have very positive conversations. Every single day I work to make sure that every police station in country NSW is fully staffed, has the right equipment and [the police] are safe in doing their job.”