NSW Police says the number of new police officers who joined Hunter police districts on Monday was “predominantly based” on vacancies and was not a decision of the state government.
The statement comes after Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison and Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery voiced concerns the region had been “overlooked” in the allocation of 257 probationary constables who graduated last week. The Hunter received three of the rookie cops.
“Once again the government wants to focus only on Sydney at the expense of regional areas,” Ms Aitchison said at the time.
“Five new people move to Maitland each day. We need to be properly supported and resourced.”
A spokesperson for NSW Police said it was the state commissioner and his deputies who decided where recruits were stationed, not government, and that they were “predominantly allocated to commands with vacant positions”.
“Police numbers at Police Area Commands change from month to month. Some may have more vacancies at any given time and may therefore have additional probationary constables assigned to their respective areas,” he said.
“In the case of northern region, positions at Police Area Commands are being filled by lateral transfers from other experienced officers.”
He said total police numbers in any given area were influenced by external factors such as crime rate and internal factors like staff turnover. The numbers were “flexible”, he said.
“The re-engineering model has allowed for a more flexible and mobile workforce, meaning officers are allocated where and when they are needed.”
The spokesperson noted the NSW government was overseeing an increase of 1500 police officers in the state over the next four years. The policy was announced in November.