NSW Shadow Police Minister Paul Toole has thrown his support behind calls for a parliamentary inquiry into crime in rural and regional New South Wales.
After meeting with Country Mayors Association of NSW chair Jamie Chaffey at Parliament House today, Mr Toole is calling on the Labor Government to demonstrate its commitment to tackling what appears to be an alarming rise in criminal activity in country areas.
The Association has requested an inquiry following figures showing an increase in crime outside the metropolitan areas, compounded by what they say is an overworked and understaffed police force.
“As the former Police Minister, I was part of a government that invested billions in the NSW Police Force to ensure police had the resources needed to drive down crime and keep our communities safe,” Mr Toole said.
“It is becoming clear however that under Labor, the safety and security of communities across rural and regional New South Wales is now at a critical juncture.
“As today’s figures released by the Country Mayors Association show, there is a pressing need to re-evaluate the allocation of police resources in the towns and villages west of the divide.
“As we in the Coalition know, rural and regional areas face unique circumstances when it comes to emergency response capabilities; more often than not, our police are being forced to do more with less.”
Mr Toole said it appears this Labor Government doesn’t understand that policing in rural and regional areas is not a one size fits all approach – and I’d be more than happy to lend my vast experience and expertise to an inquiry that helps educate the government on the problems we’re facing in the regions, and the solutions required.
“This situation cannot go on. We can’t have residents afraid to step out their front door. That’s no way to live, and nobody deserves to feel that way. We need to ensure we have enough police on the ground, with the resources they need to proactively address and deter criminal activity and make rural areas a no-go-zone for potential wrongdoers,” he said.
“The previous Coalition government had a proud track record of listening and responding to issues around crime and law enforcement in rural and regional areas, helping ensure funding and resources went where it was needed most.
“These recent challenges, including a surge in crime, and limited response times, underscore the need for at the very least, a serious and comprehensive re-evaluation of police resources by this government, and an inquiry is one way in which all stakeholders can have their say and ensure their voices are heard.”