The decision to abolish one of the most senior operational roles in the Northern Territory Police Force has been condemned by the union representing officers.
- The NT Police Association said the abolishment of Territory Duty Superintendent roles is “a terrible decision”
- Police said the positions were being “realigned” into the organisation
- The recruitment of 120 extra officers by July is still on track, according to officials
The Territory Duty Superintendent coordinates the police response to serious incidents across the vast jurisdiction and also provides legislative guidance and warrant approval to lower-ranked officers.
“The reason this is a terrible decision is quite simply this is a very important oversight position at a senior level,” NT Police Association president Paul McCue said.
“It’s purely to save some money and it’s certainly not the advice that was provided to the Commissioner by those very people doing the job.”
But the NT Police Force said that while the role was being abolished, the functions of the position would be handled by around 30 other superintendents located across the Territory.
“The positions aren’t being cut,” Acting Deputy Commissioner Narelle Beer said.
“The positions are being realigned into the organisation. So this is an exciting opportunity.”
She said six senior staff previously rotated through the Territory Duty Superintendent role on a twenty-four-hour basis.
‘Why are we going down this path?’: McCue
Three of those people have since taken redundancies, and the other three will soon shift to senior roles overseeing traffic, alcohol and workplace units.
Acting Deputy Commissioner Beer said the changes would take effect from July 1, and the new structure would ensure someone at the rank of superintendent or above would be on hand to provide support twenty-four hours a day for all officers across the region.
But the NT Police Association remained unconvinced, noting that a similar restructure was undertaken several years ago.
“It didn’t work,” Mr McCue said.
“The risk was demonstrated to be too high and those positions were reinstated back in around 2012.
“So why on earth are we going down this path again?”
All government agencies are under pressure to keep their expenditure within allocated budgets.
Acting Deputy Commissioner Beer said restructure would deliver the best “value for money” for the community and members of the force.
“Those decisions have been made considering the most effective financial constraints that are currently about, but certainly it’s about being the best we can for the community,” she said.
Police on track to hire new officers
She confirmed police were on track to recruit 120 extra officers by July, as promised by the Gunner Government in the 2016 election.
But the police association remained concerned that future recruitment may not keep up with the rate of attrition.
“We are losing six to seven officers a month,” Mr McCue said.
“We are not recruiting to that rate, and it will only be a matter of 12 months from now and we will be 80-odd positions down on where we are.”
The Acting Deputy Commissioner dismissed the concern.
“NT Police always ensure that we’ve got our numbers, so we are doing a lot of planning with other agencies, with Government, to ensure that we are providing the numbers to ensure that Territorians are safe,” she said.
The association also said it was concerned that in order to prevent increased salary costs, the police force might push ahead with a plan to defer exams that give officers the opportunity to gain promotions.
“We wrote back in disgust saying this was simply not good enough, people have set their lives up to study and promote themselves,” Mr McCue said.
“It’s a terrible decision and one which will again kick all those officers in the guts who are out there trying to do their best for the community.”
Acting Deputy Commissioner Beer said an announcement would be made by the end of the week about the issue.
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