Richmond Valley Council says its community campaign to upgrade the Casino Police Station was the impetus for NSW police minister Stuart Ayres to fast track the recruitment of additional police officers to allow the station to operate 24-hours a day.
The new recruits are expected to be in place by February.
Today’s announcement follows a meeting last Thursday between Richmond Valley Mayor Ernie Bennett, GM John Walker and minister Ayres.
The police are part of an additional 60 promised within six months for the Northern Region 60, an area that stretches from Brisbane Water to the border.
Cr Bennett said he was delighted Casino would now have a 24-hour police station.
But ALP candidate for the seat of Tweed, Ron Goodman says the numbers announced for the region simply bring it back to 2009 levels.
He added that successive coalition police ministers had overseen an erosion of numbers across the whole region.
Cr Bennett agreed the extra numbers were ‘overdue well and truly’.
‘Casino has needed a 24-hour police station for many years,’ he said.
He added greater operational hours and improved facilities would enable ‘a more visible police presence in Casino, and would improve incident response times and greater service for local residents’.
Mr Bennett said Casino residents have been ‘afraid to go out after dark and walk the streets. There are too many louts playing up and making people feel unsafe’.
‘Every resident is entitled to go about their business in safety, and a well-manned, 24-hour police station, complemented by CCTV surveillance, will most definitely help.’
Mr Walker said the council hoped to accept tenders for the CCTV cameras before Christmas, for installation in the first few months of next year.
The cameras are destined for Barker, Canterbury, Centre and Walker streets, as well as Ellis Lane and Simpson Parade, near the RSM Club.
Erosion over years
But Mr Goodman, who has been campaigning on the issue of police numbers is more circumspect.
‘We’ve seen a progressive erosion in police numbers, especially over the past two-and-a-half years. We’ve lost 17 in Tweed-Byron LAC alone since 2012.
‘In this recent announcement of 60 officers for the Northern Region there will be just four coming to Tweed-Byron Local Area Command, which will bring the numbers come back to what they were in February 2009.
‘Bear in mind we haven’t seen them here yet. If we do get these extra four in the new year, we will still be 13 officers short of where we were in February 2012.
‘Every time we call Geoff Provest on the numbers he says an extra 60 coming to the whole but he never talks about the actual strength of the Tweed-Byron command.’