Hasty police recruitment sparks concern
THE Baillieu government's plan to hire 1700 police in its first four years is likely to deliver lower-quality recruits because it has been designed to cater to a "strict political timetable", the police watchdog has warned.
THE Baillieu government's plan to hire 1700 police in its first four years is likely to deliver lower-quality recruits because it has been designed to cater to a "strict political timetable", the police watchdog has warned.The Office of Police Integrity has also painted a worrying picture of a rapidly ageing police force, with growing numbers of unfit offers assigned to desk jobs and a culture of complacency as some wait out their time to access their superannuation.In a report tabled in Parliament yesterday, the office said the drive to rapidly increase police numbers had been "causing strain" on Victoria Police.The report said that although efforts were being made to make sure professionalism was not lost in the rush to increase numbers, maintaining the quality of candidates was proving a challenge."In the past, rapid increases in police recruits have had a flow-on effect in relation to increased numbers of complaints about police conduct five to 10 years post-recruitment," the report warned. "The focus on police numbers as part of the political cycle not only detracts from the capacity of Victoria Police to conduct effective workforce planning, it also limits the capacity of Victoria Police to determine the future profile of its workforce."The report said that 32 per cent of police were now more than 45 years old, with growing numbers no longer fit for active service. "Budget allocations with a focus on raw figures of sworn police have also meant many operational police have been assigned non-operational duties in roles perfectly capable of being undertaken by public servants," it said.It also criticised rules automatically promoting constables to the rank of senior constable after four years' service and promoting senior constables to leading senior constables after 12 years. "The in situ promotion of employees without any assessment of merit is an integrity risk for Victoria Police and undermines the professionalism of the organisation," it said.It said rules restricting police from accessing their superannuation until they were at least 50 had also resulted in loss of motivation for police who may have planned to leave the workforce at an earlier age.The report comes as police step up action over a pay dispute with the government.The report blamed "outmoded" employment practices on the Police Association, saying it had created a "highly politicised industrial framework" by claiming it could "make or break" successive governments.Sonia Heath, a spokeswoman for the Police Minister, did not respond to the issues raised in the report, saying the government would consider the findings in conjunction with the Rush inquiry report on Victoria Police senior command, due later this year."Victoria Police maintains the highest standard for recruiting police officers and PSOs as part of the Coalition government's commitment to deliver 1700 more front-line police and 940 PSOs to protect families and make our streets safer," Ms Heath said.Police Association secretary Greg Davies said there should be bipartisan agreement to keep police numbers at no less than the national average.Mr Davies said any suggestion that police officers "no longer able to wrestle a group of drunks in their late teens" should be encourage to leave the force because of their age was "outrageous".