A meeting was held in Cobram last Wednesday to discuss a campaign for 24-hour policing in the town.
The move followed a recent spate of burglaries where businesses have been targeted in raids where access to business premises was gained by smashing windows.
The meeting at the Top Pub was attended by State Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy, Moira LGA police stations manager Senior Sergeant Darren Grillen, concerned business owners and citizens.
Mr McCurdy said he thought it was a good start to highlight the issues.
‘‘Everybody’s thinking about it, everyone’s talking about it, so to actually get a group together and the police and the supportive efforts of them, because they are here for the town — I think it’s a terrific start to get the ball rolling,’’ he said.
‘‘For the campaign we’ve suggested a petition for the Victorian Parliament, for the minister of police, because at the end of the day, resourcing is an issue for the government.
‘‘We have to put a hands up here to say clearly that there’s evidence to support the call for more police and a 24-hour police station in Cobram.’’
Mr McCurdy said the community needed to understand that there were two parts to this — feeling safe and being safe.
‘‘A 24-hour police station makes people feel safe, but whether that turns into police being readily available to be able to attend when they are required, that may be a secondary issue because if we get 24-hour in Cobram it will be 24-hour for Moira Shire,’’ he said.
Sen Sgt Grillen gave an overview of policing in the shire.
‘‘I think it’s great that the local community are passionate about law and order and I understand that some people have had concerns about their safety lately,’’ he said.
‘‘Victoria Police is constantly reviewing police numbers, level of offending and peak times when police are required.
‘‘We work to ensure that police are available during those times and we will keep the community updated if there are any changes to the police service in the Moira Shire.
‘‘Victoria Police deploys members to where they are required most and one of the criteria for deployment is the level of offending in a particular area.
‘‘It is more effective to have our members mobile — investigating and attending scenes of crime rather than sitting behind a desk at a police station.
‘‘We want to reassure the community that they do have a 24-hour police response in Cobram by calling triple zero.
‘‘If urgent police assistance is required, the community should phone 000 and the nearest police unit will be tasked.’’
At the meeting, owner of Big Mumma’s Fish and Chips in Bank St, Ray Fitzpatrick, outlined the need for a constant police presence in the town.
‘‘The towns of Moira shire include four major towns — Cobram, Nathalia, Numurkah and Yarrawonga — with 22 small communities,’’ Mr Fitzpatrick said.
‘‘The residential population for Moira Shire is around 29678 and up four per cent since 2011, with our summer period bringing in around an extra 20000-plus tourists staying along the river towns,’’ he said.
‘‘Moira Shire is one of the largest fruit growing areas, which attracts seasonal workers into the shire as well.
‘‘There are also three main industries in the Moira Shire running 24-hour shifts and a number of transport companies operating within the shire.
‘‘And the number of break-ins in the shire is on the increase, as well as other offences.
‘‘This is why I believe the Moira Shire needs a 24-hour manned police station in Cobram, being central to all of these communities.
‘‘Soon a petition will be out asking for your support to help make this possible.’’
- Grahame Whyte