Campbelltown Police Area Command is in urgent need of extra staff.
That’s the message from the Police Association of NSW.
Rod Sheraton, organiser for the association’s south-west metro region, said the command was currently operating at roughly 80 per cent capacity.
He said Campbelltown was one of the worst command’s in the state for ‘ghost cop’ positions.
Ghost cop positions describe stations where police positions have been allocated, but there are no actual bodies filling those roles.
“There are about 16 vacancies at Campbelltown that aren’t filled,” he said.
“It is one of the very worst commands in the state on that front.
“The police there are incredibly overworked.
“These ‘ghost cop’ positions need to be filled as a matter of priority.
“If they remain unfilled, communities like ours will be put at risk.”
Mr Sheraton said many of the vacancies came after staff at Campbelltown were moved on to specialist roles in other locations.
He said this left their former roles unfilled.
“Vacancies were slightly easier to cover before the Campbelltown and Macquarie Fields commands merged,” Mr Sheraton said.
“But the merge has made what was already a bad problem something much worse.”
He said the ghost cop problem was not unique to Campbelltown.
“Almost 900 local policing positions across the state are currently being left unfilled, with the officers transferred to other vital policing areas,” Mr Sheraton said.
“In the south west metro region there are 114 unfilled positions.
“Some of these officers have been redeployed to specialist units such as counter terrorism, cybercrime and to bolster road policing – incredibly important projects – but by leaving positions unfilled, we are putting undue pressure on frontline police and hampering their ability to protect the local community.”
Mr Sheraton said the staffing shortage was affecting local cops’ ability to do their jobs.
“All of these ‘ghost cop’ positions mean fewer police on the beat doing the important work within our community,” he said.
“Local police are reaching breaking point. The government needs to urgently commit to not just addressing the backlog in our region, but to building the state’s policing capacity.
“Past decisions have left our communities vulnerable. We need to rectify decisions made in the past so we can protect our communities today.
“We know the population is growing. We need to invest in new police just to maintain the sort of protection our community expects and deserves.
“More police on the street mean less crime on the street.”
Campbelltown MP Greg Warren said he would do everything possible to fight for the Campbelltown command.
“I will work to the utmost of my power in consultation with the local command and police association to fight for these positions,” he said.
“As we grow as a region the need for vital facilities and services like police becomes more important.
“There are not too many services within the region that are more important than what the police do to keep the community safe.
“They need every support to continue protecting our community.”