“Just 58 per cent of those surveyed said they were ‘satisfied with policing services’, a massive fall from 73.1 per cent from the year before.”   – HS 6th June ’24.

As indicated by our chairman, former Chief Commissioner Kel Glare, the issues stem from the inconsistency and, in our view, a poor police response to COVID-19. Still, some solutions can be implemented if the organisation is serious about lifting the community’s confidence, which should be a given.

The Victoria Police response was,

“the drop in public confidence is due to the survey being carried out online.”

The community is not looking for excuses; they are looking for action.

Puerile, ‘the dog ate my homework’ type excuses exacerbate, not diminish, community feelings.  It’s time to step up and address the issues at hand.

Perhaps VicPol would be better off looking outside their management bubble to determine and implement solutions that may give the public confidence in their Force.

Here are a few suggestions,

  • Review the CAA 100.3
  • Make policing at the community level the force priority over everything else,
  • Re-prioritise Proactive policing as the force’s main activity.
  • Undertake an extensive review of upgrading and modernising policies to be fit for purpose.
  • Review urgently upgrading policies. A senior officer sneezes, and the repercussions are felt at the coal face as the upgrading practices push up members to fill the gap. Creating specialist relieving positions at all levels is cheaper and more efficient.
  • Create a Force Reserve following the Military model. Releasing hundreds of members for general operational duties.
  • Introduce KPIs for all ranks above Constable, which are reviewed monthly and compared against actual performance. Failure to adjust should instigate sanctions. Hard-working Police should not have to carry poor performers.
  • Review all apparent Service Delivery initiatives to identify those that are Service Efficiency, not Service Delivery, and when the two collide, Service Delivery must prevail.
  • Review the number of Executive positions as cost savings in that area can be reallocated to the frontline. Many have been created without a business case to justify the position.
  • Reintroduce the intermediate officer ranks to provide more significant operational support, freeing up inspectors to actively provide leadership in the field. This can be done at little to no cost by not increasing the Officer ranks numerically but by realigning existing Officers.
  • Review recruiting processes to avoid applicants waiting excessively for results and call-ups. At a time when numbers are down, creative measures are required to train more recruits, and if that means introducing shift work during training, so be it; trainees need to adjust to shift work immediately after they graduate anyway.
  • Take a Force stance on the introduction of Electronic Monitoring of perpetrators to reduce police demand and achieve greater compliance, particularly in the area of Domestic Violence and Juvenile recidivist management.
  • Ensure that the 50,000-eye road watch is implemented as an urgent initiative to reduce road tolls.,000-eyes-road-watch/.
  • Ring fence the Highway patrol so they can concentrate on the Road toll and not be purloined for other extraneous police duties.
  • Take a leadership role in public issues like drugs and other community issues. This is not to encourage the Force bleating on these issues from one political side or the other of any public discourse but rather purely on the facts and the practicalities police face.
  • Police should take a strong victim-centric stand and support the implementation of reparation as a Force policy.
  • Additionally, the Force should also adopt a policy of not supporting plea bargains in all prosecutions undertaken by the Force. A criminal charged with an offence should not be something that can be traded away for convenience. The guilt or innocence of that particular matter can only be determined by the Court.
  • Ensure the Force responds to all groups potentially intent on disrupting public order in an even-handed way.
  • Urgently review the uniform dress code, ensuring members wearing mufti hybrid with police paraphernalia revert to the uniform. If the uniform is not fit for purpose, modify the uniform. Emulating American Special Forces is churlish and dangerous. If there are legitimate reasons for plain clothes, all weapons, etc, must not be visible to the general public. permission should only be given on a case-by-case basis. When Special duties and the like, move around in uniform rather than mufti, they increase the visible Police presence an imperative to build community confidence.

Victoria Police is an independent entity and must be free from the ideological pressure of the politicians of the day. It can and should provide leadership on social issues based on the facts.

Moving the Force priority to the frontline uniformed specialist general Police locally, impacteing their resourcesas an absolute last resort will go a long way to improving public confidence in Police. If additional police are required for specific events, the resources must be drawn from non-operational areas.

That a swathe of non-operational Police are taken from their tasks for a day will have little long-term impact, but removing operational vehicles from their patrols can devastate service delivery to the community, which should be the priority.

The Chief Commissioner once said words to the effect that recruits break their neck to get into uniform and, after four years, apply the same rigour to get out of it.

Our response is that force management has to apply itself to creating creative initiatives to stop this phenomenon, as these factors bleed the frontline from experience and expertise where they are most needed. These members are the Force’s leading and most important resource.

Above all else, the community wants you to be there, even when they don’t need you, as the reassurance is invaluable and coincidentally helps prevent crime and disorder.

Deal with the issues before they manifest rather than picking up the pieces later.