Based on evidence given by Police Commissioner Mal Hyde, the Rann Government was highly unlikely to meet its election promise of 400 extra police officers by June 2010, Liberal MLC Rob Lucas said today.
“Mr Hyde gave evidence to today’s meeting of the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee and confirmed that in June 2009 South Australia Police (SAPol) would be 56 officers short of the 4300 full time equivalent (FTE) target,” Mr Lucas said. “This result was similar to the shortfall of 56 in June 2008 compared to the 4200 FTE target at that date.”
Mr Hyde told the Committee that SAPol still would work towards the 4400 target by June 2010, but he warned that:
“The target will be 4400 by the end of the next financial year, and we will be working towards that target, but I am also realistic in knowing that not only do we have to reach our attrition level, there is the extra hundred next year and we have to catch up from the end of this year as well. I cannot give you an ironclad guarantee that we will reach it.”
“Mr Hyde confirmed there had been a decline in interest of UK officers due to a number of factors including the impact of the global financial crisis and the difficulty of UK officers in selling their homes,” he said.
“Mr Hyde also confirmed the rate of attrition of UK officers was about 20 per cent, which was more than double the attrition rate of locally recruited officers.
“Even though the global financial crisis continues unabated, Mr Hyde is hoping to recruit 80-100 UK officers next year in an effort to reach the Rann Government’s target.
“It now appears quite clear based on the Commissioner’s evidence there is very little prospect of the Rann Government being able to meet its key election promise of 400 extra police officers by June 2010.”
In other evidence today, SAPol and the Courts Administration Authority (CAA) confirmed that:
• SAPol had to reduce budget spending by more than $60 million over the next four years to meet budget cuts and unfunded cost pressures;
• Treasury had cut SAPol’s budget by more than $2 million per year supposedly because of savings from the Government’s Future ICT project – these savings were not real and SAPol now has to find an extra $2 million per year;
• SAPol were negotiating with the Police Association about structural changes which could lead to possible cuts in total payments to staff;
• Staff cuts in the CAA over the next three years would be 39 next year, up to 53 total by 2011-12;
• Staff cuts to judges and magistrates which could lead to impacts on services provided to the community, such as possible delays in findings from judges being produced and published.