Station shutdown concern

Anyone who needs to attend a police station during the hours Sunbury station is closed can attend Broadmeadows, Craigieburn, Gisborne or Melton police stations which will be open 24 hours (Damjan Janevski). 236237_05

Zoe Moffatt

Victoria Police will temporarily reduce its reception counter hours at the Sunbury station, a move which the Sunbury Residents Association (SRA) president has criticised for not being circulated widely enough to the community.

In an announcement on November 3, Victoria Police said reception hours at Sunbury will be reduced from 24 to 16 hours a day to divert as many police to the frontline as possible.

Kyneton station will also have its reception hours reduced from 24 to 16 hours a day. These reduced counter hours will be introduced in phase two, but Victoria Polic has not given exact dates of the changes.

SRA president Graham Williams said the announcement had not been circulated widely to the local community for feedback or consideration and therefore came as a surprise.

“In today’s environment we all have a high expectation of open and transparent sharing of information from government agencies,” he said

“It would be helpful to see the data around the historical attendance numbers for the proposed closure hours so the community can understand the potential impact.

“I was surprised [the announcement] wasn’t more widely circulated, effectively it was almost a hidden release, unless you subscribed.”

In the announcement the police said when the station reception counter is closed, police will be patrolling the area and, in many cases, still working within the station.

Police said this gives them the best opportunity to respond to urgent incidents, prevent crime, and engage with large sections of the community.

It also provides rostering flexibility while there is a significant number of officer vacancies due to attrition.

Mr Williams questioned why the Sunbury station would be affected and not other areas, and why the police have suffered such an attrition rate.

“It’s always been a problem in terms of numbers in police, this isn’t something that’s just occurred. It seems to be taking a lot of time to rectify,” he said.

“The phase two locations that were based in a metro region all had the nearest alternatives within 10 km – whereas Sunbury was 19 kilometres to Gisborne, or 25 to Melton.

“It makes you wonder why Sunbury is on the list with a population of 39,093 and Gisborne is excluded with a population of 14,222 based on the 2021 census data.”

Hume Local Area Commander Inspector Dean Clinton said anyone who needs to attend a police station during the closure can attend a 24 hour station.

“Police continue to respond to urgent incidents and prevent crime in the community, rather than sitting behind a desk doing admin duties,” he said.

“The reception closure is earmarked to occur over the coming months and we will be sure to notify the community once exact dates are confirmed.”