Shadow Police Minister Rob Lucas said today police officers were graduated last week without having completed critical sections of their training course to help the Rann Government ‘spin’ their message of 4000 police officers being employed before the end of June.
Last Wednesday (June 28) 42 police officers in two courses of UK recruits graduated before they were able to complete the vital weapons handling and driver training sections of their course.
Whilst the normal police training course is of 26 weeks duration, the Police Commissioner has determined that UK recruits must complete a 13-week course before they can operate as police officers here in South Australia. The weapons handling and driver training sections comprise about three weeks of the 13-week course.
“This extraordinary situation means that, as of today, these 42 officers are operating from Local Service Areas all over the state without having completed a training course deemed essential by the Police Commissioner,” Mr Lucas said.
“The Liberal Party has been advised that ‘political considerations’ were the reason for bringing the graduation ceremony date forward to before the end of June.
“During the election campaign one of the key election promises made by Premier Rann was that South Australia would have 4000 police officers by June 2006. For example, on February 15 this year Mr Rann promised:
“The 4000th member of the South Australian Police Force is now training at the Fort Largs academy and will graduate in June this year.”
The Labor Police policy promised:
“By June 2006, there will be 4000 police officers in South Australia for the first time.”
The decision to bring forward the graduation date of these 42 officers allowed the Rann Government to issue a press release last Wednesday boasting that the 4000th police officer had just graduated to give South Australia its largest ever police force.
“There is anger in some police circles about the manipulation of graduation ceremonies and dates for political purposes to help the ‘spin’ of the Rann Government.
“Mr Rann must now ‘come clean’ and give a public explanation for this decision. Mr Rann should also answer questions as to the nature and content of all discussions between Rann Government Ministers and Ministerial officers with police about the timing of graduation ceremonies and the publicity on the issue of 4000 police officers by the end of June.”
As a result of missing this vital training, these 42 officers have been told they will have to return to the Fort Largs academy over coming months to finish their training. The decision has been taken to reduce the time required to two weeks and each Local Service Area will have to organise their shifts to release the officers from their new duties to finish their training.
“The Rann Government has again demonstrated the lengths it will go to put its own ’spin’ on any issue.”