27th June 2022
With about eighteen thousand sworn Police in Victoria, the question of ‘where are you?’, is totally legitimate.
The Community Advocacy Alliance Inc. (CAA) has received numerous complaints about the lack of service to Victorians by VicPol.
Complaints range from police simply not being visible generally, to police stations being closed, to non-attendance of police to incidents, and calls for help from the public, and too few foot and mobile patrols.
This phenomenon is exacerbated by a complete apathy to their task by many police, particularly at Police Stations. The most egregious complaints relate to laziness and the lack of interest of police members, failing to even make a basic effort to police. In many cases, police do not even make excuses.
The answer is complex and multifaceted, but when one looks at NSW, a State that is geographically three and a half times larger than Victoria and has approximately two million more citizens with two thousand fewer police. The police there seem to be achieving remarkable results, if it is purely a numbers game.
Perhaps it is not the numbers but how they are used.
All the much-heralded increases in police numbers in Victoria have not seen an increase in the quality of Service Delivery experienced by the community.
Thankfully, there are still many dedicated and effective police looking after us. To them, we are greatly indebted, but their efforts are often thwarted by the less than enthusiastic, lazy, or just plain apathetic colleagues.
Competent police continually having to work more of the less than desirable shifts carrying the bulk of the workload while their apathetic colleagues receive the same allowances and benefits will eventually wear down the most committed who are likely to move to the other side for their mental survival.
Apathy is contagious; this easier option can eventually sway the most dedicated.
Major issues faced by the inability of the police to perform their task are structural and cultural by nature and feed the apathy epidemic sweeping the force.
These issues are not limited to but include,
- Service delivery
From outside the organisation, it appears that Service Delivery has been transposed with Service Efficiency.
The demise of much of the face-to-face learning based on a false argument of efficiency has compromised the effectiveness of training. The efficiency is questionable, but all the non-formal tangibles of face-to-face training are lost. This reduces training effectiveness and the capacity of police to compare themselves to their peers, an invaluable benefit. Competition is healthy.
Too much reliance on online training provides the apathetic with an excuse to hide on a computer (training) and is counterproductive to a good Police Force.
- Police mobile patrols
As far as the CAA resources would allow, it has been established that many Police Stations are only capable of maintaining Night Shift Patrols that are numerically the same as thirty years ago. Additionally, with the new policies around Domestic Violence reports that take a minimum of four hours per incident (often longer), many areas are left at night with no patrol capacity.
Any wonder the community feels unsafe.
- Task Forces
Including all other special efforts or dedicated Policing groups is the antithesis of good policing. Each of these groups and there is a need for some, highlights a Police failure. The crime should have been prevented in the first place. Task Forces or similar groups are routinely inefficient in a global sense. The staffing of these groups has to come from somewhere, and that usually means the General Duties Police, further reducing their capacity to prevent crime, so the vicious cycle perpetually expands.
Management finds it easy to set up a task group but not so easy to shut it down as the staff become comfortable in that environment, explaining why many groups last for years.
- Poor supervision
This failure extends far into the rank structure and is a significant contributor. Police Managers are not held to proper account for staff failings, a major flaw and an area where blame-shifting is endemic. Lazy managers create lazy subordinates.
The bottom line is that the organisation has turned its back on its core function and motto, “Tenez le Droit” (Uphold the right).
These are just a sample of the issues identified by the CAA as significant contributors to the failure of policing in Victoria.
The CAA is concerned that unless a pragmatic and realistic approach is taken to these and other issues, the decline in Policing will accelerate.
As if we as a community needed more pressure from crime.