VICTORIA Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton has quashed reports that Echuca police resources are stretched and officers are struggling.
The Riv understands several police officers are on stress or sick leave, and with no replacements some members are having to do the work of two.
However, Mr Ashton said he didn’t believe this was the case.
‘‘I don’t know if police are doing the work of two. Policing is stressful work, no matter where you are and how much support you have,’’ he said.
‘‘I don’t know that resources are stretched. Victoria’s well served in this part of the state by police and I think we have provided very good services in this part of the state.’’
With Rochester residents calling on more police following a spike in crime, Mr Ashton said he believed there was enough manpower at Echuca police station to cover these smaller towns.
‘‘Rochester is well served by Echuca and neighbouring stations,’’ he said.
‘‘They’re very good and experienced police here and they know the community really well.
‘‘I’ve been to the Echuca station a number of times over the past two years and they’re really experienced police who value and know the community and I think the community is well served by the police.’’
Mr Ashton said he was not aware of the number of officers away on stress leave but took the matter of police wellbeing seriously.
‘‘A lot of money and a lot of effort is spent in trying to make sure our police are supported through our welfare systems,’’ he said.
‘‘But it’s not only specialists who provide welfare supports, but peer support networks and the Victoria Police chaplaincy.
‘‘Any officer that’s off, we want to try to make sure they are back to work healthy as soon as they can.’’
Although Campaspe Inspector Geoff Owen would not say how many officers were on stress or sick leave, he said police would always provide an appropriate response to the community.
‘‘If required, additional police resources can be deployed if a particular incident requires,’’ he said.
■The Echuca branch of the Victorian Blue Ribbon Foundation yesterday dedicated Echuca hospital’s short stay unit in honour of Senior Constable Peter Geddes. Read about it in Monday’s Riv.