The Police Commissioner, Simon Corbell has called for the reinstatement of the crime squad and has also described changes to the policing of alcohol crime in the territory as “sensible”, saying that licensed venues will continue to pay higher fees to help fund the services.
The Attorney-General has promised that the amalgamation of an alcohol crime squad with the city beats police will not reduce efforts to tackle alcohol-related crime.
The opposition have asked that the government reinstate an alcohol crime task force which was amalgamated with the city beat police to fill in due to the lack of officers patrolling at night, when most alcohol fuelled incidents occur.
The Canberra Liberals will also call for at least $15 million that was cut from the ACT Police’s budget. The money is required to employ more police for the currently understaffed city beat. In addition to the calls from extra beat police, there will also be a call for legislation to provide additional protection for police who are assaulted in the line of duty.
Reports have surfaced which claim that police chiefs have been having to work with seriously low numbers of beat police even though written complaints from officers have been coming in at least once a month for the past 2 years.
Police management have this month responded by merging the beats squad with the alcohol crime squad. The alcohol crime squad was established in 2010 under new liquor laws and are being funded in part by pubs and clubs through higher fees which licensees have to pay under a risk-based licensing scheme. The following excerpt from CanberraTimes.com.au explains:
The alcohol task force was set up to curb alcohol-related violence. Funding the squad led the fees for some venues to rise to more than $10,000 under a risk-based licensing scheme.
Mr Corbell told the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday he was informed of the amalgamation about a week ago. The Attorney-General said the move would not reduce police resources targeting alcohol-related crime.
”Madam Speaker, the decision is one which is a sensible one on the part of the chief police officer,” Mr Corbell said.
”The chief police officer is seeking to deploy his resources in the most effective way possible.
”Of course it makes sense that particularly on a Friday or Saturday night the alcohol crime targeting team, which is in operation often in the Civic area, will work with and co-operate with the city beats team.
”This does not result in any reduction in the capability of the new dedicated combined team to focus on alcohol-related crime and violence, and those activities will continue, I’m advised, unchanged.”
Under questioning from the opposition, Mr Corbell said the new structure would not mean a reduction in or refund of fees for licensees.
Clubs ACT are not happy with both the ACT government and police management, claiming that pubs and clubs were not informed about the changes, some even calling the changes deceitful.