The ongoing “civilianization” reforms in Adelaide police have kicked up concerns within the force with the opposition seeing it as a political opportunity to target the government.
However, Police Commissioner Grant Stevens gave the go ahead for further reductions in opening hours to speed up “civilianization” in the city’s police services. It involves closing eight more police stations in metropolitan Adelaide. He also want to cut down the number of 24/7 police stations in the Greater Adelaide Area from the present seven to four.
Under the reforms, most police stations will have to be staffed by civilians. More civilians will also be hired for answering triple-0 calls on behalf of police. They will also do administrative tasks, previously done by police officers, reports The ABC.
The Commissioner now wants civilians to handle the SA Police’s (SAPOL) intelligence network. Stevens justified his plans by calling it a “restructuring” of the police force with the aim to involve more civilians in police jobs.
He admitted that a force reduction will be necessary but said the positive was that it would give the “opportunity to redirect police officers into other priorities.”
“Rather than talking about the numbers, let me say from the outset, from the very first day as Commissioner, I made it quite clear that I was aiming to pursue civilisation of functions being conducted by police officer that did not require police officer skills or authorities,” Stevens said.
Police Association of SA president, Mark Carroll, lambasted the plans and said nothing justified the change in opening hours.
“Common sense revolts at having your only 24/7 police station open in GPO Adelaide as Hindley Street,” he said.
Liberal leader Steven Marshall called for a parliamentary probe and said Police Minister Peter Malinauskas would be evasive and will not be taking a stand.
“The Minister will be ducking and diving, he’ll say this is an operational matter, and this is straight out of the Labor playbook.”
Malinauskas, in his response, praised the commissioner and said the police had the right to make their own calls.
“We want the Police Commissioner making decisions in a way to ensure that we’re delivering the most efficient, productive resources that we have,” he said.
Meanwhile, Adelaide Now reports that police association leader Carroll is being cautioned about a spurt in crime if the reforms continued. He said the new policing model was a failed one in Western Australia. It only led to the rise in crime levels and industrial disputes besides hurting the morale of the force.