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Unworkable, crowded station impeding Gungahlin police

Sergeant Andrew Mitchell looks out over the sprawling expanse of residential construction in Gungahlin.

Sergeant Andrew Mitchell looks out over the sprawling expanse of residential construction in Gungahlin. Photo: ACT Policing

Gungahlin police are being constrained by a station too small for their needs, sparking calls for the construction of a new, stand-alone police station to help cope with the area's massive population growth.

ACT Policing operates from Gungahlin Joint Emergency Services Centre, a building owned by the ACT government and shared with paramedics and firefighters.

The station, opened in 1998 and made a 24-hour police service in 2009, has felt the effects of the area's huge population expansion, which has doubled from 24,400 to 49,700 in the decade to 2011, making it one of Australia's fastest growth areas.

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Work spaces, desks, and computers are limited. Overcrowding is a problem, particularly during the overlap of shifts, and some officers have reported being unable to sit down at a desk or access their computer for an entire day.

This has meant officers are unable to look at important intelligence briefs and emails before they begin their patrols.

The space to conduct interviews, particularly so-called ''soft interviews'' with victims and traumatised witnesses, is restricted.

The lack of space has put pressure on the officers, who cover a huge area stretching from Dickson in the inner-north to Hall and Bonner near the NSW border.

The Australian Federal Police Association chief executive officer, Dennis Gellatly, said the station was falling well short of accommodating a 24/7 police operation in one of Australia's fastest-growing town centres.

Mr Gellatly said a new stand-alone police station was needed to cope with the projected growth of Gungahlin.

''Gungahlin Police Station was built to the absolute minimum needs of a fledgling community a decade and a half ago,'' Mr Gellatly said.

''The ACT government needs to build a stand-alone police station designed to meet the needs of a Gungahlin community of 80-100,000 residents,'' he said.

''Anything less is simply not sustainable over the longer term.''

The police station is currently in the process of a restructure, which is planned to give the officers more space.

The building is owned and managed by the ACT government and the Justice and Community Safety Directorate, unlike most other police stations, which are owned directly by the Australian Federal Police and ACT Policing.

A spokesman for Police Minister Simon Corbell said the government continued to work with police to identify accommodation priorities for the force.

The spokesman noted the construction of the new Belconnen Police Station, and recent upgrades to the City, Tuggeranong, and Woden stations. He said interim measures were also being considered to deal with the issues at Gungahlin station.

The police union said the lack of space may be affecting the morale of officers.

''Police are remarkably capable and adaptable; however, there is a limit to what is reasonable,'' Mr Gellatly said.

''As a community we insist on applying the fundamental principles of human rights.

''The working environment of police is no less as important and the consequences of an overcrowded workplace can impact morale and productivity and workplace safety,'' he said.

Plans have been drawn up for a refurbishment of the current station, to see them through the next few years. That would allow additional work spaces, new computers, and more overall space for officers.

6 comments

  • Like the hospitals and universities these institutions should be allowed to received large bequests and millionaire donations for such projects: we have a fund for women police in memory of Fagan.

    Commenter
    Nice Place To Live
    Date and time
    February 25, 2013, 7:16AM
    • Its worse down South as the crime rates there are horrendous.

      Commenter
      Muzza
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      February 25, 2013, 8:47AM
      • They cram new suburb after new suburb in the back of gungahlin and do little or nothing to accomodate it. Nicholls, Palmerston, Ngunnawal, Amaroo, Gungahlin, Harrison, Franklin, Forde, Crace, Casey, Bonner, Harcourt Hill. Twelve suburbs already and Jacka, Moncrief, Kinleyside and Taylor on the way. And most of these suburbs are far more densly populated than regular suburbs because the blocks are only 1/3 to 1/2 the size. Try getting down Gundaroo Drive any time other than 2 in the morning between Gungahlin Drive and Mirrabei Drive. Its a constant parking lot. That tiny 1km stretch of single lane road is the only way for FIVE suburbs to get to Belconnen and the main road of access to the shopping centre and petrol stations for every other Gungahlin suburb. If Gungahlin was a game of SimCity it would have been game over about a decade ago. Its the most poorly planned suburban area in Australia. I N F R A S T R U C T U R E you idiots.

        Commenter
        J72
        Date and time
        February 25, 2013, 8:50AM
        • well said, Corbell has known about the planned and current population increase, he should have built it already. It is the same with overcrowding at hospitals, traffic jams, lack of and poorly designed public transport, but when the brumbies needed a new sponsor the government acted within weeks, even the lights at Manuka were built quickly. If only the ACT Police played sport.

          Commenter
          stoney
          Date and time
          February 25, 2013, 9:57AM
        • Free market economics price in negative aspects to a product, even housing.

          Did you pay top dollar? oops.

          Why not hand around the hat in YOUR community to pay for YOUR problems? Ah, perhaps its a matter of entitlement and others paying for it.

          Commenter
          evanism
          Date and time
          February 25, 2013, 10:10AM
      • so how long did it take them to upgrade the Belconnen Police Station? get in line im sure it'll be a while until Shane gets up to "Upgrade Gunghalin Emergency Response center so the cops stop complaining to the media" in his list of priorities

        Commenter
        Frank
        Date and time
        February 25, 2013, 10:41AM
        Comments are now closed

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