Armidale branch of the NSW Police Association calls for end to prisoner escorts, arguing frontline resourcing putting New England towns at risk

Calling for action: From left, Armidale Branch of PANSW members Matt Scott, chair Chris Jordan and Simon Meehan in Armidale.
Calling for action: From left, Armidale Branch of PANSW members Matt Scott, chair Chris Jordan and Simon Meehan in Armidale.

THE police association claims local towns are being left at risk and without adequate policing because of long prisoner escorts taking officers away from the frontline in New England.

The Armidale branch of the NSW Police Association (PANSW) says a police vehicle was taken off the road for three eight-hour round trips to transport prisoners to Kempsey jail last week alone.

Armidale branch chair Chris Jordan told Fairfax Media there was also no police truck available in a New England town for six hours while officers transported a prisoner to Lismore.

“Local police do have to go away, and they feel they leave communities at risk through this process,” he said.

Mr Jordan said the issue of prisoner transports – taking officers off the frontline to do escorts between stations and jails – had been around for longer than his 18 years with the force.

The talks have gone on for a long time and enough is enough, we’ve got to come up with something better than this.

Armidale branch chair Chris Jordan

“It’s been an issue since then, it was an issue way before then, it just hasn’t gone away and the association has been talking to minister for a long time,” he said.

“The talks have gone on for a long time and enough is enough, we’ve got to come up with something better than this.”

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The issues has been simmering for sometime with the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) ordering NSW Police and the PANSW into compulsory conciliation, preventing any industrial action by officers.

Mr Jordan said officers feel the community needs to know that towns like Armidale, Uralla, Guyra, Glen Innes, Inverell and Tenterfield are being left without a full contingent of officers on the frontline to respond to emergencies and crime call outs, as well as proactive policing.

He said not only were local police routinely called upon to transport officers to jails or holding centres in Tamworth, Moree and the coast, but officers also had to escort custodies to hospital wards like Banksia mental health unit in Tamworth for specialist mental health assessments. 

Some of these towns are left with no first response vehicle to respond to incidents, sometimes for hours at a time, with sector police or officers from other stations called to provide back-up.

Armidale branch chair Chris Jordan

“Corrective Services should be properly resourced to undertake this function,” Mr Jordan said.

“Some of these towns are left with no first response vehicle to respond to incidents, sometimes for hours at a time, with sector police or officers from other stations called to provide back-up.”

New England police were unavailable for comment on Monday. The parties will head back to the IRC in June.

This story Less talk, more action: union calls for end to prisoner escorts first appeared on The Armidale Express.

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