The changing face of the force

A LATROBE local area commander has welcomed discussions concerning the direction of Victoria Police’s future following yesterday’s release of the Blue Paper.

The reform report, released by Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay, outlines proposed changes to be made within the force by 2025.

Among many potential changes, it suggests some police duties should be outsourced, officer progression could be dependent on physical fitness, background checks should be more rigorous, more women and people of a diverse range of cultures including indigenous Australians should be employed and small substations should be moved to ‘supersites’.

“The whole idea of the paper is to generate discussion and get people thinking in that space as to what we are going to look like in 2025,” Latrobe local area commander inspector Dean Thomas said.

While concerns were voiced on Tuesday the reduction of substations would impact country one-man operation police stations, Mr Lay assured rural police stations would not be cut.

“I think those discussions are healthy and they should be had because we should always be looking as an organisation at how we do things better,” Mr Lay said.

The paper also suggests introducing mixed patrols of volunteers and police officers with the aim of preventing youth crime.

“We should always be looking at ways that we can prevent crime and divert people from committing crime,” Insp Thomas said.

“We work with a number of different stakeholders from different organisations to try and combat that.”

With Latrobe Valley police officers affectionately referring to in-house prison cells as ‘the zoo’, it is expected the news of outsourced guards would be welcomed by officers who at times are in charge of feeding prisoners rather than fighting crime.

“From a personal perspective, I look forward to the day when police don’t have to perform the duties of prisoner keepers but hopefully that will happen one day in the future,” Insp Thomas said.