BARWON Local Area Command will be axed next year and its resources split into super-sized Oxley and New England policing districts in a major shake-up of country cops.
The Leader revealed in October the force was going to abolish Barwon and put the southern sectors of the command including Narrabri, Wee Waa and Boggabri into an expanding Oxley policing area, while New England would take control of Moree, and north to the border, including towns like Bingara, Warialda and Boggabilla.
On Thursday morning, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller and Deputy Commissioner for Regional NSW Gary Worboys confirmed the plan.
It comes as Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall – who’s electorate covers both New England and part of Barwon police commands – calls for more resources to tackle rising crime in Moree, arguing a police strike force and more officers are need to fight violent crime, gripping the town.
In total, the 34 local area commands will be reduced to 26 police districts as part of the force’s re-engineering.
And it’s a case of back to the future, with the officer-in-charge model to return, meaning one police officer will live and work in the town they oversee, to ensure local policing decisions are made at a local level.
Commissioner Fuller said police districts will have a district superintendent with varying spans of control, while each district will incorporate an ‘officer-in-charge’ model for each of its police stations.
"A large aspect of re-engineering is putting more police back on the frontline and a flexible workforce is a good outcome for regional communities," Commissioner Fuller said.
“The new Police District model has been designed to significantly improve our capability to service Regional NSW.
“The Police Districts will be supported by the new Region Enforcement Squads based at Wagga Wagga, Dubbo, Tamworth and Coffs-Clarence and the new Domestic Violence High Risk Offender Team in Western Region.
“Policing in regional and rural communities differs greatly from the city and our approach recognises the unique needs and challenges of both models.”
Deputy Commissioner Worboys said regional and rural communities want to know who their local police are and importantly who is in charge of their police station.
“We will see a return to the officer in charge model throughout regional police stations overseen by a commander at the district office,” Deputy Commissioner Worboys said.
“This model allows for a more dynamic and flexible approach to investigations, proactive operations and focussing on important community issues like domestic and family violence and mid-level drug supply.
“Police who live and work in regional towns are often heavily involved in the local community. Their job is enhanced by being part of that community.”
More to come.