Opposition calls for immediate probe into police staffing ‘crisis’

by | May 13, 2021 | News | 0 comments

The CLP Opposition has called for a parliamentary investigation into how the NT Police force is managing recruitment issues and why 120 police officers have left the force in a year, including 22 in one month.

Leader Lia Finocchiaro moved a motion in Parliament this morning to establish a select parliamentary committee to “work out why so many officers are leaving and what can be done to improve retention rates”.

She called the attrition rate a “crisis”, which needed to be urgently investigated.

“Not surprisingly, the Gunner Government doesn’t want to acknowledge there’s a problem, let alone address the issue of our appalling attrition rate – including a recent separation of 22 officers in the space of just one month,” she said.

“Is it because of exhaustive overtime? A distrust between police and the Gunner Labor Government? It is because of inadequate resources and infrastructure, particularly in regional and remote areas?

“The reality is, we simply don’t know because there’s no rigour in understanding this issue. We can’t let attrition continue at this rate – something must be done.”

Ms Finocchiaro pointed to the NT Police Association’s survey of officers last year that found nearly 90 per cent of police believed the Gunner Government interferes in police operational matters and that 87 per cent said the government does not understand policing issues.

Another 90 per cent of police said the current recruitment program is ineffective.

She said the committee would examine attrition rates of police in other jurisdictions, the budgetary impacts on officers and thrust between the government and officers, as well as job satisfaction issues.

Low police morale has been widely reported since Jamie Chalker took over as commissioner in late 2019.

Police Minister Nicole Manison told Parliament the call for a committee to investigate why police are leaving was an attack on the senior police executive.

“They are not backing the senior executive of the Northern Territory police force,” she said.

“They have brought forward this motion into the parliament, Madam Speaker, and they seem to think that the Northern Territory Police executive are not across the challenges, the issues, and they’re not managing the police force.

“I’m really proud of the Labour government’s record here in this Parliament.

“As Police Minister, I will fight for the police, every single day.”

The government later used its numbers in Parliament to gag debate around the motion and voted it down.

“The blunt message Labor has sent to our hard-working police force is simple: we don’t care why you’re leaving in droves, and we can’t be bothered working out how to keep you here,” Ms Finocchiaro said in a statement after the motion was defeated.

“Even the independent Member for Goyder, Member for Araluen and Member for Mulka – along with rest of the Opposition – were denied the opportunity to speak to the motion.

“The Chief Minister, and his cowardly Labor team who have completely abandoned police, should hang their heads in shame.”

NTPA president Paul McCue had backed the call for a parliamentary investigation into police attrition rates.

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