Police union won’t cop new beat for Sunbury

The police union has rejected calls for the booming suburb of Diggers Rest to be transferred into the Sunbury police service area, saying it would put more pressure on officers already dealing with soaring numbers of calls.

Sunbury police station is already closed to the public on occasions due to a lack of staff, and Police Association secretary Ron Iddles has warned that any additional workload without increased police numbers could result in a poorer service.

‘‘Our members at both Melton and Sunbury are stretched to the limit,’’ he said. ‘‘Sunbury is a station that’s already responsible for a large area with high demand.’’

In State Parliament last week, Western Metropolitan Liberal MP Bernie Finn said it made sense for operations in Diggers Rest, which is five minutes from Sunbury, to be transferred from Caroline Springs (about 20 minutes away).

‘‘In peak hour, [Caroline Springs] can be anything up to two hours away, given traffic conditions in the outer west these days,’’ Mr Finn said.

But Mr Iddles said distance was just one thing to consider.

‘‘Given that police in Sunbury are also stretched, it follows that people of Sunbury may well receive a lower level of service,’’ he said.

‘‘We would recommend that Victoria Police looks for a more sustainable solution, one that increases its police numbers to respond to calls … no matter where [people] live.”

Sunbury has 33 officers, while Melton and Wyndham stations, which are also under pressure from massive population growth, have 76 and 98 respectively.

Officers have complained about working double shifts and coming in while on leave to cover for sick or burnt-out colleagues.

Hume councillor Jack Medcraft – suggesting the allocation of officers between western and eastern suburbs may be politically based – recently asked the council to write to Victoria Police and the state government, expressing concerns about staffing levels at Sunbury.

In a response to the council, Acting Police Minister Robin Scott said the government worked with the chief commissioner to ensure police were appropriately resourced.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said there was always a 24-hour presence at Sunbury and people could contact police via the intercom.

‘‘The state government recently announced … an additional 300 frontline police,” she said. “We will be working through this … to determine how these resources will be used.’’