Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Upper Hunter candidate Lee Watts concerned about staffing numbers in Hunter Valley Police District

LOCAL residents are “disillusioned” about a lack of numbers within the Hunter Valley Police District, according to Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Upper Hunter candidate Lee Watts.

Even though a further eight highway patrol officers were recently unveiled at Muswellbrook, Mrs Watts stated the overall amount of personnel, including those in general duties, was still not acceptable.

“We have police stations in this electorate, but not enough police to staff them, much less enough police working in our towns,” she said.

“Singleton has a population of more than 23,000 people, however the state government doesn’t think that’s sufficient to have an operational police station.

“I have residents from throughout the region talking to me about how long it takes for police to reach them from Muswellbrook.

“They can’t remember the last time they saw officers on the beat in our towns and it’s because neither of the major parties have bothered to make sure police numbers have kept pace with our community’s growing needs.

“When you look at the Singleton Police Station, it was built in 1896, because even that long ago the town needed police on the ground.

“In 1996, the last lock up keeper left and it has been unstaffed ever since.”

Mrs Watts said it was the same story around the electorate, with a number of police stations unattended.

“We shouldn’t have to wait for officers to travel from Muswellbrook to respond,” she explained.

“We need more police in our towns - ready to respond and ready to answer the door when we need them.

“Our local police do an incredible job, travel huge distances to attend road accidents, domestic violence and they have more and more jobs and paper work to do.

“They deserve more support and we deserve more police.

“Saying we don’t have enough police to staff a station sounds like a bad joke – and it is.

“It is not okay that both of the major parties have let numbers dwindle away and our stations close, because it has happened under both of them.

“But, they don’t have a problem pumping money into billion dollar stadiums and weird multi-million dollar art works in Sydney while we get left behind with the basics.

“The Upper Hunter deserves much better.

“Both major parties have a long history of leaving this electorate behind.”

Just last month, Hunter Valley Police District Commander Superintendent Chad Gillies said he welcomed the additional positions at the Muswellbrook station.

“Local police have a great working relationship with Traffic and Highway Patrol Command and this will strengthen our local focus on road safety in the Upper Hunter,” he stated at the time.