The iconic Notre Dame Cathedral, built in 1250 and located on the Île de la Cité (an island in the Seine) in Paris, was gutted by fire in 2019. French President Emmanuel Macron declared at the time that the Cathedral would be completely rebuilt.

The task, starting with the foundations and everything above, is slated for reopening in 2024, six years after what was criticised as a very optimistic five-year target set by Macron.

And what relevance does this dauntless undertaking have to Victoria Police and the current industrial relations issue? Quite a lot.

Given all the challenges faced by the French, this arduous task will be one of the most outstanding achievements of all time, demonstrating that given the right goals, an unwavering focus on the result and motivation, anything can be achieved.

The critical issues required to achieve this outcome are,

  • Visionary and intellectually sound Leadership,
  • Unwavering support from the political class,
  • A committed artisan workforce who could see the goals set,
  • and an equally committed citizenry.

Each of these components is of equal value to achieve the overall goal.

Those values directly correlate with how to address the problems of Victoria Police and how the issue must be approached – the Industrial action is but a symptom of a more significant issue that needs the application of the principles adopted by the French.

The first challenge for those with executive influence over the Force is to admit shortcomings and address them head-on rather than deflect them with spin. For many problems, Industrial Relations tops the list; solutions cannot be achieved with a series of band-aids but by addressing the core issues.

While the current IR issues must be resolved, unless authentic leadership comes to the fore and restoration of this once great organisation is undertaken to be the benchmark for policing in Australia again, IR issues will continue to plague the organisation and increase in frequency, sucking the energy that should be applied to its function, impacting adversely on the Workforce and  Service delivery.

We will persist in drawing attention to the issues that require urgent consideration.


  • COVID Impact on Police

Policing is a proud and was generally a highly respected profession.

There is no doubt that the use of the police by the Government during the COVID pandemic has done enormous harm to the standing of police in the community. The current disquiet and much of the disastrous staff retention failures can be attributed to COVID. The damage done is seismic and will linger, reverberating for at least a decade or more.

The police have worn the brunt of much of the displeasure caused by the Government strategies implemented during COVID, mainly experienced in their private lives through friends, acquaintances and family, making it more emphatic than normal community disquiet.

We, as observers with some knowledge of the processes that should be followed and best practices in law enforcement, consider that the government’s strategy to scare the pants off the community coupled with overzealous and incompetent police leaders collided, trampling all over the Separation of Powers to produce some very ordinary policing of the type we usually only see in other undemocratic countries with authoritarian regimes.

We are still astounded that the person who authorised the use of firearms to disperse demonstrators has not been identified and charged with serious criminal offences or, at the very least, relieved of any command positions because of an appalling lack of judgement.

To this day, there has been no plausible deniability from VicPol.

Given that leaders, both Political and Police, are quick to apologise for anything historical, the failure to acknowledge the many COVID errors and commit to change shows abysmal leadership.

The CAA has long argued that the responsible use of water cannons to rapidly achieve law and order by dampening the spirits of lawbreakers in the first instance or forcibly moving demonstrators if non-compliance continues is substantially more appropriate than firing rubber bullets (capable of inflicting severe injury or death) or exposing Police to injury trying to restore order. This option must be put under earnest consideration.

  • Roads Policing

As is not unexpected, given the reaction by the Police and the Politicians (if they ever care to comment constructively), there is much-feigned handwringing and teeth-gnashing over the shocking road toll. Victoria has recorded its highest number of lives lost on the roads in 15 years, with 296 people killed. The death toll of almost 300 easily eclipsed the 241 who died in accidents in 2022.

One would have thought strident gains in policing our roads would have improved markedly over fifteen years, but apparently not.

These figures support the regular anecdotal claims that there are never Police on the road.

This statement in response to the carnage was attributed to Victoria police by the Herald Sun and shows the narrow thinking of VicPol –

Police allege,

“Single acts of non-compliance or people making basic driving errors”, such as failing to obey road signs and red lights, using mobile phones behind the wheel and low-range spee

ding, have accounted for more than half of the deaths, while stunts such as high-range drink driving, illicit drug driving and excessive speeding made up about a quarter of fatal collisions.

Further, about 10 per cent of people killed were not wearing a seat belt”.SEO

 What they don’t say, and is not in their DNA to admit, is that they have failed. Just blaming the public; it’s always somebody else’s fault. Although there is a modicum of merit in their allegations, the Policing function of preventing offences and prosecuting offenders cannot be abrogated and has clearly and dismally failed. Many of these offences would dramatically decline with adequate visible enforcement of the rules.

Although there is still an Assistant Commissioner for Traffic, it is our understanding that line control of these Police rests with the Operations Command and has, in effect, absorbed the specialist Traffic Police to support the Operational General Duties. They must be allocated to their own command to meaningfully target areas that can deal with some of the ‘non-compliance issues’ and be accountable.

The Traffic police have lost their deterrent effect, which must be fixed. Just painting ‘Highway Patrol’ on their vehicles doesn’t cut it. The average driver no longer keeps an eye on their rearview mirror in case the police check their speed; technology (Speed Cameras) has its advantages but has nowhere near the deterrent effect of a patrol car in real-time.

Using Highway Patrol for general duties should be a matter of last resort. As should the use of these Police in special operations unrelated to traffic.

A functional adjustment will dramatically improve productivity and a sense of worth and appreciation for what they do. It will also counter attrition issues from these members, considerably improving Industrial Relations.

The only caveat we put forth is that the nine-hour rotating roster could be dangerous to apply to these members as the challenge of nine hours of driving reduces the safety of members and, over consecutive days, may put them in danger of fatigue, an OH&S issue.

  • 000 calls from the public reporting dangerous drivers is a monumental Service delivery failure in that there is minimal follow-up of reports of poor driving, arguably aggravating an already dire policing failure on our roads.

mpressive until you look a little further and realise that without plausible explanations, it is smoke and mirrors, a deceitful and shocking attempt to con the public by VicPol or the contractors.

The other notable figure is that in 2022, 51,305 events were recorded. Now, that is odd and a 14,519 discrepancy. Fourteen thousand five hundred nineteen times, jobs not registered as incoming were despatched via the system.

Where did they materialise from?

We don’t know who is to blame for this statistical bleep. However, when you add to that, there is no assignment accountability; it does need proper investigation.

Once the call from the public is received, the CAD system enters the job, and an operator either assigns or despatches a unit.

We know that the vast majority of these calls are never attended and marked off on the CAD System as Gone on arrival (GOA), No Offence Disclosed (NOD), or the most usual response is Keep a look out for (KALF), a generic broadcast of the details reported or the other classic Unable to Locate (UTL) which can also mean we did not look.

There is no accountability, follow-up or feedback, even by SMS, of the outcome to the 51,305 publicly-minded community members doing their civic duty.

Only about 1,000 calls resulted in any real action, and as a result, 906 offences were detected, 117 offenders were apprehended, and six stolen cars were located.

This last statistical matrix should have every dedicated and competent Police member, irrespective of rank,  salivating at the potential and furious that this opportunity to make a real difference has been ignored for so long. Over 50,000 sets of eyes working for law and order is getting close, to policing nirvana. (Buddhism)

Examples of the CAD system as it should be,

  1. Two vehicles were seen “dragging” along Ferntree Gully Road Glen Waverley; theregistration numbers of both cars were provided.  There was no police vehicle available to attend, and the outcome was recorded as AAC (All Apparently Correct). A check of police records indicated that the probable driver of one vehicle had accumulated 19 demerit points and had recent criminal convictions for serious offences. He was into high-performance drag cars.  The caller was contacted and stated she was a nurse at the Alfred Hospital and constantly saw people in emergency involved in vehicle collisions. The drivers were ultimately interviewed and later pleaded guilty to driving offences in court.
  2. A Vehicle was seendriving dangerously on the Monash Freeway towards the city.  The supervising sergeant requested that a unit be directed to investigate.  The supervising sergeant replied shortly that the registered owner and the reporting person had been contacted. The registered owner stated that her granddaughter was driving the vehicle. A further check revealed that the granddaughter has numerous prior convictions associated with drug use.

Contrasted with

  • An example of tragic consequences was a drug-affected driver who was later convicted of culpable driving.  In 10 days before he caused a fatal collision, numerous calls were made to 000 reporting his erratic driving. Any of the incidents reported to police could have amounted to Conduct Endangering Life or Serious Injury, in which case it would have been open to Victoria Police members to arrest and bail him with conditions, thus providing an immediate response and saving a life; it never happened.

Can you imagine what impact VicPol could have on crime and traffic issues if the efforts of the public were respected and pursued? Not even a return ‘text’ with a note of thanks and the outcome to the instigator of the original call. So much for nurturing public help.

One would think having over 50,000 Victorians providing eyes for law enforcement would be respected and built upon, not treated with disdain.

Another example where it’s not how many police the force has but how they are used that is the key.

  • Service Delivery

This is critical to improving industrial relations as an organisation is respected for its ability to deliver its services. Hence, its staff reap the benefit of working in a rewarding environment and management is duly rewarded.

The problem for VicPol is that they seem not to understand what Service Delivery is, and it is regularly confused with Service Efficiency and masqueraded as Service Delivery. A good organisation constantly tests Service Efficiency proposals through the prism of Service Delivery, which always trumps efficiency.

Something more efficient is counterintuitive if it adversely impacts Service Delivery, the organisation’s primary function, and its purpose.

The lifeblood of Policing is information, and an area with the most significant conflicts between the two disciplines has collided to the detriment of good policing practises.

  • Telephone communications, much to our surprise, and we might add to the surprise of a Deputy Commissioner, who didn’t know you cannot ring Police Headquarters, the Police Headquarters phones have been disconnected. The switchboard has been closed. So, unless you have a particular member’s phone number, you will have enormous trouble communicating.

This example is just one of many where the decisions are made based on efficiency at the expense of service.

If you have ever tried to use the 113444 police assistance line, you are more likely not to be assisted but around as to make the effort a waste of time. But never fear, the police assistance line provides service efficiencies, albeit it fails dramatically in providing an efficient service.

An efficient switchboard would ironically save time and improve service both internally and externally. Improving both service efficiency and service delivery.

This is magnified throughout the Force, even down to local Police Stations ( -who at least have a Phone number), where several options will be given in answer to your call; the quantity varies on each station but can be a substantial number for the caller to determine which one they should use.

The responsibility to determine whom the caller should talk to has been placed on the caller, who is supposed to know the intricacies and duties within the station and who will deliver the required Service, not the service provider, VicPol. Often, much time is wasted bouncing a call around within a Station, and the one left frustrated, the caller, is supposed to be the person to whom police are required to provide a Service.

This approach is based on the flawed assumption that all callers know whom to talk to about their issues, but unlike the police, who have access to a detailed directory, the public is left to flounder. Blatant and entrenched Service Efficiency at the expense of Service Delivery as it allegedly saves Police resources and time, or does it? The answer is only an obscure maybe, but what about delivering the police service, an abject failure?

  • Tactical deficiencies affecting IR.

We have been concerned for some time about the lack of tactical expertise that unnecessarily puts the lives of police and the public at greater risk than they should otherwise. This issue is central to IR or should be.

With a heightened international upsurge in radical extremism, the risk to police has markedly increased again.

The blind adherence to two-up patrols translates into Police never being one-up, irrespective of the task. That effectively reduced police capability by up to 50%.

Police patrolling by vehicle or on foot in two-up or more patrols face greater danger than patrolling by themselves because,

    • A partner or partners distract members from their crucial defence mechanism, situational awareness.
    • Having to manage professional relationships and colleague dynamics can cloud the judgement of when to pursue an issue or back off.
    • Multiple Police involved in performing patrols can provide multiple attractive targets for the radicalised, and history has shown fewer police have been killed working one-up, making one-up patrols less dangerous.
    • The risk factors are exhibited by unnecessary police congregating to minimise their risks. Poor or inadequate supervision leads to Police being spectators (the most dangerous situation for any police member)and not performing any particular role at incidents. A spectator generally has no situational awareness and is in danger.

Again, anecdotally, we see the less stringent application of the two-up policy, which is good; however, any move in this direction must be taken with care as less experienced members may have no situational awareness policing skills. This should be the priority of Training and a skill that must be developed.

More often than not, the concept of one-up patrols is misunderstood and rapidly dismissed as some archaic policing practice when, in parts of the world, the idea is seen as cutting-edge for the safety and efficacy of the Policing role.

One-up patrols do not mean fewer police but more police vehicles, heightening the visible police presence and reducing risks by attending to calls simultaneously with other patrol vehicles.

As a station that might, on an average shift, field three vehicles, under this scenario, they would probably field five or six, substantially improving the efficacy of the police function for that shift. Once the initial phase of an incident is controlled, it may only require one member to finish collecting information for admin purposes or any other reason. The other police, who are not directly engaged, can be available for different tasks. It can be very effective with active and competent local supervision.

The issue of police safety working one up or with one or more partners was closely examined at https://www.aic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-05/tbp049.pdf. The findings did not provide sufficient grounds for abandoning one-up patrols based on police safety or efficiency.

  • Technological agnosticism

This seems to have a substantially negative effect on Victoria Police. Everything in this area appears piecemeal and developed by a series of add-ons that do not achieve overall application cost-effectively.

The most recent issues involved the attempt to have all members issued an iPad, and the increased service efficiency sounded great until somebody woke up and that an iPad was a liability in the operations area and a risk to employees ‘ safety. Wrestling suspects while holding an iPad became an evident and terminal flaw.

The answer was to provide members with an iPhone, but instead of developing an iPhone that can perform the tasks of a body-worn camera, it is used as an add-on to the existing cameras.

Microelectronics Technology has developed miniaturised cameras that are currently used in medicine and other applications, so why not policing?

Micro cameras worn by Police connected to their iPhones would not be a giant leap technologically but would be welcomed by the members and improve their safety.

The cameras could then be used with facial recognition to scan suspects, establishing identity and other relevant police data on-site. This information can be vital for members’ safety during an interaction in the field.

  • G-Tags

A proposal long pursued by the CAA to apply technology currently available, to the police function.

Fitted to all vehicles, the G-Tag can,

    • Minimise the risk to police and the community by disabling moving vehicles remotely. The capacity to render a vehicle inoperable will dramatically reduce the need for ‘police pursuits’, the dangers to the community and police, and the inevitable property damage. The technology has been available for some time and has already been installed in many newer vehicles.
    • Provide more material of evidentiary value in prosecutions where a vehicle is involved,
    • Locate missing persons, reducing loss of life by self-harm,
    • Reduce the theft of vehicles and affect recovery before the ubiquitous torching of vehicles.
    • An aid to identifying perpetrators using vehicles.
    • Linked to the 000 reporting of dangerous driving, the G-Tag can verify that report and take action immediately. Using the current 50,000,000 calls coupled with an ability to respond immediately if the danger exists would have a monumentally positive impact on Road safety, criminality, and civil compliance.

There are other advantages set out in the proposal at https://caainc.org.au/?s=G-Tag .

We know that VicPol ran a pilot of an abridged version of the concept in Dandenong; however, given the approach adopted, it is a little wonder that the pilot failed. We suspect this was more about a deliberate attempt to discredit the idea rather than any effort to evaluate the proposal properly.

It was telling that at no stage did the management running the pilot attempt to contact or consult with the CAA so as to run an unbiased pilot.

What little information we have on the pilot indicates that those responsible for it had little idea of the concept and were piloting a system that removed all responsibility from policing, a trait we have seen in other approaches to other issues – avoiding responsibility, masked as Service Efficiency, and or lacking the ability to apply visionary and intellectually sound Leadership.

The critical issues required to achieve positive outcomes are lacking in Victoria Police, and leadership needs to follow the French model,

    • Visionary and intellectually sound Leadership,
    • Unwavering support from the political class,
    • A committed artisan workforce who could see the goals set,
    • and an equally committed citizenry.

These and other issues need attention, and we do not underestimate the task ahead, but if the French can do it with Notre Dame, then VicPol should have no problems achieving what seems unachievable; it just takes ‘Visionary and intellectually sound Leadership’.

The opportunity exists for VicPol leadership to create a seminal moment in Victoria Police history.



6th January 2024

The protected industrial action involving Victoria Police members and the Government has piqued our interest. We hope fervently that the matters are resolved quickly so that the service we expect from our Police Force is not further compromised.

Although police members have strongly indicated that community public safety will not be compromised, the mere fact that an industrial dispute is festering will distract police no matter how genuine their intention is.

Historically, the industrial issues that raise their head every few years could be correlated to a rise in the staff dissatisfaction index (if there was one).

A workforce that does not feel appreciated is poorly or over-managed and fails to achieve a satisfactory level of ‘job satisfaction’, which is the root cause of employee dissatisfaction, inevitably leads to industrial disputes when the employer adopts a strident approach.

We are not convinced that the negotiated issues as reports will resolve anything in the long term.

The stumbling blocks to a negotiated settlement are complex but seem to boil down to primarily finance and shift arrangements.

As for the financial component, there should be no hesitation in finding common ground. The Government must realise that for police to gain job satisfaction and perform at a higher standard, they must be appropriately renumerated.

The other ‘hot button’ issue is nine-hour shifts and nine-day fortnights; in our view, the opposing argument proffered by the Chief Commissioner is sound.

We are concerned that this ‘shift’ timing change may lead to less productivity as, anecdotally, we are constantly advised that the public does not always receive an adequate or timely response from police now, and there is no guarantee that this situation is likely to improve with current arrangements.

We are also concerned that police will suffer accumulated fatigue working consecutive nine-hour shifts. That can compromise the Police and the community’s safety.

Our most significant concern is that if this proposal gets up, the community will suffer, and job satisfaction issues will not have been addressed.

That will translate into the Force only being capable of providing even fewer police responses and reducing police proactive (prevention) work even further, possibly even eliminating it.

The visible Police presence will become more mythical than real.

Some of the critical issues are,

  • Police management. There has been substantial growth in the appointment of Senior executives, and with that, many lesser senior ranks to support the executive class are required. That translates to Police being removed from Operational tasks to backfill the administrative vacancy line these promotions create. This also means the executives need something to do to justify their appointment, so decisions are drawn up to fill the allotted resource time, taking the power from the decision-makers closer to where the issue occurs. That is a fundamental and flawed management principle. Quality decisions are best achieved by those closer to the issue and, therefore, better understand what is at stake and the consequences.

This vital principle is critical to an organisation responsible for life and death issues. Less operational staff equals more workload for others, more stress and less job satisfaction, which will translate into more sick days; the inertia of this process will start eroding the organisation further as it gathers energy.

  • Nine-hour shifts.

Eight hours in a shift is enough.

The disruption to members’ lives as management struggles to cover the 24-7  police response can be disastrous and not worth the extra day off. The loss of productivity (reduced service delivery) hurts the community, but nobody would decry renumerating members who do put the extra time in.

Appropriate remuneration is reasonable if adequately managed, perhaps electronically, is fair. Still, the additional rest day per fortnight will take years to recruit and train enough Police to replace the days lost yearly. Recruits do not grow on trees, nor does the funding; paying the existing staff for their work would be better. Finding training and accommodating the extra police will take years; in the meantime, the current members will carry the additional workload.

This would exasperate stress-related health issues across the organisation and adversely impact personal relationships rather than improving work-life balance.

  • Legal system destroying police,

It is hugely frustrating for Police who, after a lot of hard and sometimes dangerous work, arrest a criminal and prepare what is a detailed brief of evidence only to have the courts easily persuaded by the flimsiest excuses to grant Bail, putting the criminal back on the streets. All police must deal with frustrations imposed by Courts, which is part of the job; however, it has become an endemic issue evident since the introduction of Restorative Justice.

Ironically, and adding to the police frustration, the Restorative Justice model that in application removes personal accountability from criminals was heralded as a breakthrough that would reduce crime. However, it turned out to be just another academic folly that damages the community fabric rather than helping it, with the Police carrying the brunt.

  • Sentencing of offenders

Once a conviction is achieved, the sentencing has gone awry, and its inconstancy has become ubiquitous throughout the Court system.

Offenders are more likely to go to jail for fraud offences, dubbed ‘white-collar crime’, particularly against the Government, than multiple aggravated burglaries or many violent offences. The ignominy of this approach to justice is the ‘white-collar’ criminals creating fiscal mayhem and then further imposing on their victim (taxpayer) to be housed in jail. This approach seriously dilutes any deterrent value.

White-collar criminals should never go to jail; money is their motivator, not liberty, but they must be required to repay their debt incurred to the victims and or the State. Having an aggressively pursued restitution sentencing arrangement will not only become a disincentive for others; the repayment may take many years, creating a better deterrent. This will provide for greater capacity within Corrections for violent criminals to be sentenced and jailed appropriately, giving, amongst other advantages, police the opportunity to feel their work in trying to keep the community safe has an impact not being undermined by the Courts.

  • Social engineering

Social engineering proponents rarely consider the unintended consequences of their fantasies because their knowledge of the issue is purely academic and often out of touch with reality. It is these fantasies that bear heavily on the police psyche, who suffer the ignominy of having the tools to maintain social order removed from them but will be criticised for inaction against disorder as a result. It is like outlawing hammers for carpenters and expecting them to build a house.

Public drunkenness – Police power to pick up drunks has been removed, but no effective alternative has been provided statewide. Drunks are people who are cognitively impaired by alcohol, drugs, or both, so asking them what they want has questionable efficacy. The promised drunk tanks and the like are so mired in red tape and conditions that they are a waste of time. The closest some of the proponents of this initiative come to drunks are at cocktail parties and never see the belligerent drunks police regularly deal with. It would do them some good having to deal with, in police historical parlance, a dirty 30; they will quickly change their views.

  • Medically supervised injecting rooms (MSI) – How a government can fall for the spin of drug apologists is beyond comprehension. The MSI hurts the community, not only where it is located. It only tolerates a specific clientele and has no impact on helping the addicts to stop using. It does, however, facilitate wider drug use, a windfall for the drug trade. The function of the MSI was to be the vanguard in normalising drug addiction, and it forms part of the central plank of the apologist’s agenda. The normalisation of addiction, if the apologists hold sway, will inflict Melbourne in the same way the same strategy has destroyed the liveability of many international cities that have gone down this path and are now struggling to reverse the trend.
  • Raising the age of criminal accountability – This initiative will court disaster by removing any semblance of disincentives for young offenders. It will most likely increase the offending, not reduce it. Still, it is very clever as there will be no measure of success or otherwise because the privacy provisions would prohibit gathering data on children who have not been charged with an offence because of their age.

As with many social engineering initiatives, no case has been presented on how these children will be dealt with. Most will keep offending until they are old enough to be charged. The unlawful behaviour will be entrenched with little hope of effective diversion. The reality of the folly of this issue was recently highlighted when a carer was allegedly murdered by a 13-year-old in her care.

The age of her assailant does not influence how dead she is. As is often the case, there has been no thought on how Police might deal with an underage juvenile committing a violent offence as they are not old enough to be charged, let alone arrested.

It also begs the question of what happens to the Police Cautioning Program responsible for diverting hundreds of young people a year from a life of crime– young children will now presumably not receive a caution until they are over 14. For many, that is far too late. The unlawful behaviour and the adrenalin rush it creates will be entrenched in their character- the hope of correcting the behaviour is minimal at best.

  •  Domestic Violence –

This community blight has the most significant adverse impact on Police. Police are attending domestic disturbances every 9 minutes, that is over ninety thousand (90,000). A third (36.7%) of those incidents involved a person who had previously been involved in Domestic violence, which indicates the abject failure of the current system.

An expensive Royal Commission was completed in 2015 with 207 recommendations. There has been no appreciable evidence that the Commission has impacted the frequency and severity of domestic disputes in nearly a decade since the government adopted its findings. The Commission’s failure is even more dramatic when considering they have spawned a vast Domestic Violence Industry and the imposition on the police of an array of non-core tasks, making the minimum time required at each event 4 hours, but usually many more.

Calls for help for other matters requiring Police can go unanswered because all police can be tied up on domestic violence matters.

The police role must be redefined and restricted to keeping the peace and prosecuting the offender if any offences are detected. Then, the matter is for the Welfare agencies and the Courts to arbitrate as it should be.

Welfare agencies have abrogated their responsibility to the police, who should not be used as the Welfare services lackeys; these services must apply their resources to the tasks and take a reactive role in real-time; these experts cloistered in their offices must get to where the problem occurs.

They need to do their job.

  • Rreview the Police role.

A review of the Police’s role in the domestic space will go a long way to solving the workforce issue within VicPol, particularly the burnout of members. It will also contribute substantially to the effectiveness of policing overall in a cost-effective way.

While there is no doubt that more police are required overall, this alternate approach will free up police resources for other police duties very quickly, not having to wait until recruits are trained and integrated. Additionally, there will be an immediate benefit in removing or reducing the harmful effect on members of having to spend so much time dealing with the burgeoning number of Domestics while being aware that other pressing Police matters are not getting the attention they require.

  • Police Recruiting

It seems that the ‘elephant in the room’ is that recruiting is not being adequately managed. We are not referring to individuals delivering the system; they try very hard to get it right, but it needs major surgery.  The inertia of a failing recruiting function can poison any organisation; in Policing, it can be catastrophic.

Viewed from the outside, the recruiting process has been built by a series of add-ons, with each component added without proper evaluation of the nett effect; a review is essential.

Though we do not have access to the exact processes, anecdotally, the time it takes for recruits to be processed is ridiculous. Aspiring recruits, many of good quality, are not pursuing the Policing career because of roadblocks the system places on them. Principally, the costs incurred by each applicant. Some, again, anecdotal information suggests applicants are forking out circa $2000 to apply. We acknowledge that much of this is optional, but it is marketed to improve the chances of the applicant’s appointment. However, the industry it has spawned hurts the recruiting process. It creates a false persona for applicants who are coached and are not being assessed on their natural ability, an essential attribute.

VicPol recruiting paraphernalia includes a list of suppliers who offer these services, which suggests that the use of these companies is supported, encouraged and endorsed by VicPol; this is a severe conflict of interest that seemingly nobody has picked up. The criteria for inclusion as a preferred supplier may need investigation to ensure efficacy.

When the delays to successful applicants drag out too many months or even years, expecting potential recruits to hang in limbo is disgraceful and must be reviewed urgently. Less reliance must be placed on the recruiting process, which by any measure has been failing VicPol.

Greater emphasis must be placed on the performance of recruits during training, and their probationary period should be extended to four years to weed out those unsuitable and ensure that the recruits are retained in operations for that period at least.

From inquiry to employment, it must be no more than a month for suitable applicants only affected by the available training places.

How does this impact the industrial relations impasse?

As it turns out, these issues have a broader impact than the current industrial situation, which must be viewed as a symptom of more general problems.

Given the issues we have listed, and there are others, the critical question management must answer is,

‘Why would a Police member be motivated to work in this environment?’

The numbers of frontline Police are continually dwindling, putting more load on those remaining. Little wonder the average recruit will only spend four years operationally on the street before seeking alternative employment within the Force or elsewhere. The cost to develop a recruit’s skills to a level of competency for a short career tenure is not cost-efficient.

Each of these issues has a profound effect on the Police members.

This also feeds into the explosion of stress-related health issues for Police and the impact that has on service delivery and the individual members and their families.

The current EBA negotiations are not the panacea and will achieve little, irrespective of the outcome, without addressing the core issues.

Further industrial action can be reasonably anticipated in the not-too-distant future.