No objective assessment can question that we are in a crime crisis.

While there is overwhelming evidence of a crisis of significance, what is also happening on a scale below the headline events, and is numerically high, is many cases, inflicting cruel injuries, both physical and mental, to innocent victims that are irreversible, ruining their lives and their families.

We must be realistic and accept that what we have been doing doesn’t work; blaming others and trying to identify the cause serves a purpose, but not now.

Now, is the time to bring the problem under control, and then we can look at long-term solutions.

What has become abundantly clear is there is a dearth of leadership.

Somebody needs to stand up and tackle the issue, not in a month, but now, before more people are maimed or die.

We urgently need a significant boost in Police numbers to enable a visible Police presence at all places of high risk 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

We also need to deal with the demonstration issue so that policing the state can continue despite threats of demonstrations.

The Chief Commissioner could decree that all non-essential police operations be suspended for two months and that police freed up be allocated to patrolling high-risk areas.

At the end of the period, it may well turn out that a hiatus of the non-function or fiefdom building functions are not as critical as assumed, and elements could be permanently dispensed with.

It seems that Victoria Police are hesitating to face the challenge.

We expect that VicPol, in crisis, will return to the failed Matrix Management philosophy of having a meeting instead of somebody displaying leadership, addressing the problem, and accepting responsibility for the outcome.

The attraction to the meeting strategy is the appearance of something being done that will solve everything. The added bonus is that no individual can be held accountable for failure. VicPol is not alone; there is nothing of substance from the Government or Opposition either, which is very worrying and exposes the weakness of the leadership currently on offer.

There are currently insufficient police under current police management practices to become proactive and prevent these incidents; however, in this crisis, we need to be bold and innovative to deal with the current life and death problems.

Part of the solution lies in using the thousands of retired police in the community, who can perform many operational tasks and most back-room administrative functions—a Force Reserve.

This frees up police to man shopping malls, shopping strips, transport hubs, schools, or any place that demonstrates a security risk to minimise what is quickly approaching carnage.

It may be argued that it is easier said than done, but it is not difficult if intelligent minds are assigned to the task.

Establishing a Police Reserve where retired members can be offered a position at the same rank and payscale they previously held to stay on for a specified period or part-time, returning to work under the same conditions.

Amendments to the Police Act can be quickly drafted to accommodate a Police Reserve. Some retirees value the freedom of retirement but are very prepared and capable of taking up short-term commitments as required, a technique used significantly by the military.

A cash incentive scheme would guarantee sufficient interest. If handled correctly, the Reserve members may need a short training update of weeks, not months.

The argument that we should recruit more is a long-term necessity. Still, recruiting potentially competent and effective police is too slow to provide police management with the surge capacity required to keep the state safe.

The recent COVID experiences placed incredible demands on Police resources. They should have been enough to cause serious planning to create the capacity for VicPol to develop a surge capacity.

An adequate surge capacity means responding to the issue while retaining the necessary resources to maintain day-to-day functions.

For example, the significant issue during the COVID response was VicPol’s inability to respond and provide security for the COVID-19 quarantine facilities that housed infected people.

The task then fell to a questionable Private Security firm. As a result, it has been argued that 801 lives were lost because the virus escaped the Quarantine facilities—a security failure.

Whatever the argument that the Chief Commissioner of the time put forward, it is not unreasonable to conclude that had police taken on the Security function from the beginning, the likelihood of the virus escaping would have been substantially reduced, albeit that Private Security could augment Poilce and be phased in over time.

Inexplicably, Emergency Management Victoria seemed to play no part.

The problem of VicPol not having adequate surge capacity to deal with unforeseen events was exposed, but here we are again, only a couple of short years later and again, the lack of a surge capacity persists.

The difference this time is that the evidence of an impending social disorder crisis has been evident for some time as thousands of new migrants have been added to the population without consideration of the infrastructure, including police numbers, to deal with the additional migrants who historically bring with them new and problematic issues requiring more intense Police attention.

Here are some suggestions for how a reserve may augment operational members to create a surge capacity.

  • The majority of staff on a Booze Bus could be sworn Force Reserve.
  • Watch House Keepers throughout the State could be drawn predominantly from the reserve.
  • Capable Force Reserve members could interview witnesses.
  • Crime scene specialists could be trained in the reserve.
  • All police allocated to community liaison roles supporting special interest groups could be reallocated to operations, and much of this work undertaken by the Police Reserve members.
  • There is no doubt Reserve members could replace many Police involved in training.
  • On the issue of training, which has generally moved online, the efficiency and efficacy of that move need to be reconciled. Hours spent on a computer most shifts compared with police being returned to the classroom for training where all the advantages of group training can be experienced must be revisited. The online move suits the trainers, making their lives easier, but it is not a good management practice. Online training hours are not adequately managed, affecting Police member’s productivity. Spending a couple of hours online during a shift where they could provide a visible police presence is a counterproductive use of members’ time.
  • Every Police function must be reviewed and categorised as essential, necessary or nice to have. The latter is where the numbers can be extracted from.

These are just a few examples that could effectively increase the force capacity by over a thousand members when required. Still, with application, there are hundreds of other jobs where a reserve member could effectively function to achieve efficiency. When done appropriately, service efficiencies can achieve a higher level of service delivery.

Reserve members of all ranks could also be considered for relieving tasks. This could have a very positive impact on resource capability and suit many retirees’ lifestyles.

Unfortunately, these current issues are not like COVID-19 and are unlikely to dissipate like a virus.

The issues are deeply rooted in the cultural and non-secular values instilled over generations by many of the new migrants arriving in this country. As they continue to come in great numbers, the problems will escalate, not diminish.

VicPol cannot just sit back and hope but must start seriously addressing the resource problem with clear, nonpartisan values.

The cost would be considerably less than accelerating new recruit training and avoiding taking shortcuts like lowering standards that may prove detrimental to the organisation in the long term.

If the matters require Government funding, the community has every right to know that a lack of funding compromises their safety, and the Government can take responsibility.

At the moment, VicPol is responsible.