On a number of occasions this year I have brought to the attention of the Baillieu government the desperate lack of police numbers in the Geelong area, particularly on the Surf Coast and the Bellarine Peninsula. Local newspapers the Geelong Advertiser, the Surf Coast Times and the Surf Coast Echo have reported extensively on the shortage of police, and the Geelong and Surf Coast communities are understandably concerned. However, it seems that the member for South Barwon in the other place, Andrew Katos, and the Baillieu government are simply ignoring these calls.
The Bellarine Peninsula and Surf Coast are popular destinations for schoolies activities, which can lead to a high rate of unsociable behaviour when young people and the intake of large quantities of alcohol are combined.
During the schoolies period this year as few as four police were left to patrol Torquay, Anglesea and Jan Juc on some of the most eventful schoolies nights. It has been reported to me that there was an occasion when two separate, quite large fights broke out but the police could only attend one because they did not have enough officers to attend both.
This comes on the back of the latest crime statistics, which reveal that the Baillieu government has watched crimes against the person rise 52.1 per cent. Crimes against the person in the Geelong region, which includes the Bellarine Peninsula, have risen 22.8 per cent. As the holiday season approaches coastal police have said they plan to make a formal complaint to the Victoria Police Association to highlight the lack of resourcing. It is about time the Baillieu government listened to the coastal communities and the police and fulfilled its promise of more police to patrol day and night in the Geelong and Surf Coast regions. A few extra day patrols just does not cut the mustard.