More police, 24 hour station: petition calls for more Glen Innes police

Kerrie Sturtridge helping Leslie Lane sign a petition calling for a 24 hour police station.
Kerrie Sturtridge helping Leslie Lane sign a petition calling for a 24 hour police station.

A community group wants Glen Innes' police station to operate around the clock.

Kerrie Sturtridge is helping to lead a campaign to petition the NSW parliament for more Glen Innes police and for the station to stay open 24 hours a day.

The Glen Innes police station has been put under pressure by a shortage of police after a horrendous double police shooting in January forced three police officers to take leave. The station has been obligated to draw police from other areas like Armidale in order to fill rosters.

The group is asking Glen Innes residents to sign the petition which refers to a "recent increase in youth crime and bad behavior and a possible shortage of police permanently based at Glen Innes police station."

The petition asks the NSW state government to "consider an enhancement of the number of police positions available at Glen Innes and consider making Glen Innes a 24 hour police station."

Kerrie Sturtridge was awarded the order of Australia medal on Australia day this year for service to the community of Glen Innes. She said the group had already got about 300 signatures.

"If we want them to support us, we've got to support them," she said.

"They're doing a wonderful job, but there's not enough of them."

She said one of the big concerns by some people was that the station is often not staffed and phone calls are transferred to Armidale, particularly if police have been called to a job.

She said the petition would be offered to businesses for them to petition customers in a campaign which will run until the end of June. The group hopes to get most of the people in Glen Innes to sign, which means they're aiming for thousands of signatures.

Two police were shot and wounded with a third dragging her wounded colleague to safety in a horrific January shooting incident.

Two police were shot and wounded with a third dragging her wounded colleague to safety in a horrific January shooting incident.

This is not the first time Glen Innes has asked for additional police. In 2016 the Glen Innes Severn council formally asked for a greater police presence in Glen Innes in a 24 hour station, but the station actually has fewer on duty three years later. The council also asked for the development of a PCYC in Glen Innes, which also hasn't happened.

Glen Innes Severn mayor Carol Sparks has already signed the petition. She said the council felt ignored by the department.

"Community is feeling unsafe in certain area," she said.

"They don't seem to be able to have the staff to cover the requirements that we need so we've just got to get those extra staff here."

She called on the police commissioner to travel to Glen Innes to look at staffing levels. She said a previous visit by police hierarchy had led to a refurbishment of the police station, which is now underway.

"I do feel that Glen Innes is neglected in that area, we seem to sit just on the edge of everything.

"They say we do have the services but we have to wait forty minutes for it on average and that's about every single thing including our health services."

In 2016 Glen Innes had the third highest rate of domestic violence in NSW, with 106 incidents. By 2018 the town dropped to number 20; overall crime rates remain relatively high but are falling.

Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall is also a cabinet minister. He said he is aware of the petition and awaits its outcome.

Senior constable Helen McMurtry (with partner Gary Huard) was badly wounded in a January shooting incident, along with sergeant Mark Johnston.

Senior constable Helen McMurtry (with partner Gary Huard) was badly wounded in a January shooting incident, along with sergeant Mark Johnston.

Glen Innes has recently received a new probationary police officer, who started Monday. The NSW government made a commitment before the March election to spend $583 million to hire 1500 new police officers for the state over four years.

The staff shortage is not a safety issue. All shifts are being covered and in case of a crisis the station can call on specialist staff like detectives and highway patrol officers.

Then Police Minister Troy Grant office was contacted by the Glen Innes Examiner for comment on a previous story and asked if he thought the situation was fair on the current police. The inquiry was referred to the Police Department as it was considered operational.

A spokesperson for the department responded saying they "regularly review resourcing and allocation of police officers according to operational needs".

"We will continue to monitor police numbers to ensure communities are served and supported by their local officers," the spokesperson said.

"Police numbers are subject to fluctuations due to recruitment of new police, resignations and retirements as well as training, special operations and leave.

"Recruitment for officers to transfer to New England Police District is underway."