Police numbers in the Mountains are down, delaying response times and putting pressure on existing officers, according to the NSW Opposition.
Shadow Minister for Justice and Police, Guy Zangari, was in Springwood on Wednesday (June 14), calling on the state government to restore funding to the Local Area Command.
He said the LAC was six officers short, meaning it was operating at just 74 per cent of capacity.
“That puts pressures on police who are working a job that is physically and mentally challenging,” he said.
“And if police are sick or injured, it puts even more pressure on the troops.”
Blue Mountains MP, Trish Doyle, said she had heard from both police and members of the community who had suffered because of the staff shortages.
“People are concerned about response times and they feel that our police, while effective and fantastic, aren’t as visible as they could be. They are under-strength and struggling and morale is quite low.”
She said the proactive crime team, which had been targeting a spate of aggravated break and enters in the Upper Mountains, has been temporarily closed down and absorbed back into general duties staff because of the shortages.
There has been an increase in mental health and suicide incidents recently, as well as a large number of search and rescue jobs, partly because of the additional tourist numbers.
Ms Doyle said the community and the police themselves deserved “proper resources”.
Mr Zandari said the lack of police was “a direct consequence of the Liberal Government’s neglect of police staffing throughout the state. This is nothing but penny pinching from Treasury bureaucrats and the Police Minister’s office.”
A police spokesman said police numbers were subject to fluctuations due to recruitment of new police, resignations and retirements as well as training, special operations and leave.
"NSW Police is undergoing a review of the force's structure with the establishment of the re-engineering taskforce. The taskforce will look at where consolidations can create greater efficiencies to allow us to better serve the community into the future.”