Newcastle Herald: Population up, police numbers down as Newcastle ranks in crimes top 10

Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery says police numbers have dropped 5 per cent in the Northern Region command area in the past 15 years while the population has grown 21 per cent.

In a speech to Parliament on Tuesday, Ms Hornery called for more police resources for her electorate and the wider region.

She issued figures on Tuesday morning showing Northern Region police numbers dropped from 2305 to 2191 between 2006 and 2020 as the population rose from 1,393,110 to 1,675,275.

The command takes in NSW coastal areas from the Hawkesbury River to the Queensland border.

Newcastle City Police District numbers fell from 245 to 244 officers, despite the local government area ranking in the top 10 in eight categories of Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures.

A spokesperson for Ms Hornery said her figures were based on Census data, the NSW police website, answers to questions on notice and statistics collected by her office.

“In the last 15 years, the Newcastle Police District has gone backwards in numbers,” Ms Hornery said in a media statement.

“There is already a clear need for a stronger policing presence in the Newcastle area. The Newcastle LGA holds the unfortunate distinction of being the state’s leader in steal from person, ranking first in that category.

“Newcastle is ranked second for fraud, fifth for other theft, sixth in steal from motor vehicle, seventh in transport regulatory offences, eighth for steal from retail store and 10th for robbery and motor vehicle theft.”

Northern Region has one police officer for every 765 people, compared with one officer per 549 people in Central Metro (Sydney), 916 in North West Metro, 791 in South West Metro, 670 in Southern Region and 446 in Western Region.

NSW Police Association executive member Ian Allwood expects the government to allocate more officers to Northern Region at the end of March.

He said the police union had been pushing for more officers in the region after Premier Gladys Berejiklian promised in 2018 to introduce 1500 new positions over four years.

“Maitland is one of the fastest-growing LGAs in the state. Police numbers need to keep pace or it becomes a drain on a critical resource,” Sergeant Allwood said.

Ms Hornery complained early this month that the Newcastle Police District had received no new officers from the latest allocation of police recruits.

She pointed to recent shootings in Jesmond and Wallsend, the armed robbery of a Henny Penny store and reports of cars driving through streets shooting at each other as evidence of the need for more police.

“One of the most common issues raised with my office is the lack of adequate police resources in the Wallsend electorate,” Ms Hornery said.

“Every time an allocation of new officers is announced, I ask the same question: Why is the Newcastle City Police District so consistently overlooked for new officers?

“Our local police officers do great work, but they are under-resourced and under-staffed.”

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