Nimbin MardiGrass organisers and pundits complained last month of over-policing but in the nearby Ballina shire, councillors say police resources are overstretched.
Councillor Eoin Johnston won the support of fellow councillors in late May to have staff write to the NSW police minister requesting a review of police numbers in the Ballina shire with specific emphasis on actual rostered shifts for the Alstonville Plateau.
Ballina Deputy Mayor Sharon Cadwallader seconded the motion having already raised the issue of policing in March.
‘We’re expanding at such a rate, we need to be on the front foot when it comes to essential service numbers,’ Cr Cadwallader told The Echo on Wednesday.
Calls for police station on Lennox Head
Cr Cadwallader wanted to know the plan for future policing in the Ballina shire, including the potential for a police station on Lennox Head, an area she said was growing ‘exponentially’.
The deputy mayor said councillors had also heard community complaints about an increase in petty crime incidents in Alstonville.
‘There is a resident police officer in Alstonville now and also another officer there but quite regularly they’re being tasked to Lismore and Ballina,’ Cr Cadwallader said.
Emergency services overwhelmed by mental health incidents
Ballina Shire Council staff said in notes for May’s ordinary meeting they’d written to the NSW police minister requesting a review of police numbers in the shire ‘to assist in the ever-increasing need for local officers to deal with not only crime, but also with mental health issues’.
‘I was hearing that police are assisting the ambulance service because they are getting more and more patients with mental health issues,’ Cr Cadwallader said, ‘and there’s an ever-increasing need for that at the moment, like there is, I think, right across the country’.
While staff said in May they were yet to receive a reply from the police minister, Cr Cadwallader said a recent visit from the police commissioner was a positive sign, as was the deployment of an extra ten officers to the Richmond Police District, which includes the Ballina shire as well as the Lismore local government area.
She said she hoped the issue of shift coverage when officers are on stress or health leave would also be addressed.
‘This Notice of Motion that councillors supported last month will allow council staff to write again and seek a response as to what is the future planning for permanent staff in the Ballina shire,’ Cr Cadwallader said.