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Chief Commissioner Ken Lay to outline his vision for future of Victoria Police

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Nino Bucci and Tammy Mills

The true rates of sexual abuse, fraud and family violence offences are not being reflected in police reports and current funding models will do nothing to address the problem, a Victoria Police document has found.

The Blue Paper, to be outlined by Chief Commissioner Ken Lay on Tuesday, finds that funding more police and more stations ‘‘will not meet the challenges faced by police and the community’s expectations’’.

Mr Lay had the Blue Paper produced as he believed the force had ‘‘no clearly laid-out, long-term strategy’’.

The paper finds that the force is struggling to cope with demand.

‘‘As it stands, the model will not meet expected growth and patterns of demand in the coming years,’’ it reads. ‘‘A transformation is required to maximise the effectiveness of Victoria Police with limited resources – a significant change to achieve better value for money.’’

The paper finds that tax revenue will be insufficient to fund the increase in demands and that continuing the funding models of the past 20 years which has had an ‘‘almost exclusive’’ focus on more police and stations would be inadequate.

The findings put the force at loggerheads with the state government and opposition, who both committed to funding increased police numbers at the last election and have committed funding for several new stations.

The state government committed almost $23 million to build new stations in Echuca and Ballarat West in the budget last month.

The paper also finds that the allocation of resources is outdated, resulting in a ‘‘mismatch’’ between demand and police numbers.

This is mostly due to allocating staff based on population rather than crime numbers, rostering based on inadequate forecasting, industrial arrangements and traditional practices, and the location of stations that ‘‘often reflects a bygone era of horse-drawn transport’’.

Mr Lay will on Tuesday release his vision for the future of Victoria Police for the next decade, which includes a radical overhaul for frontline officers and changes to the allocation of resources based on crime rates, not on population.

As revealed by Fairfax Media last week, the Blue Paper will outline moving police from local stations as crime would increasingly be tackled through specialist taskforces.

Mr Lay is expected to discuss the paper on Tuesday morning.

Other recommendations are reported to include:

  • Targets to ensure more women, people born outside Australia and Aborigines are recruited.
  • Changing police rosters so more officers are available at peak times.
  • Fast-tracking promising staff and allowing entry from the private sector into high ranks.
  • And outsourcing some functions, including the processing of some fines and staffing booze and drug buses.

The paper is also believed to include recommendations to hire more public servants, despite dozens being made redundant over the past 18 months.

Mr Lay recently revealed explosive details of the paper at a Rotary Club dinner in Wangaratta, warning that the number of frontline officers in the regional city could be halved over the next decade.

"Don't expect that in 10 years' time that you'll see 60 uniform people in Wangaratta – you won't," he said at the event on May 15.

"You might only see 30 people, but you'll see taskforces, you'll see lawyers, you'll see financial analysts, you'll see chemists, you'll see the people who can actually help us do the really, really difficult policing."

A day before the event, Mr Lay told a parliamentary budget hearing the organisation was moving police away from stations. He said putting additional officers into police stations did not always curb crime.

"Four or five years ago when we actually put the additional police into police stations we found that we were starting to lose control of things like deceptions, the ice, the family violence issue," he said.

"So the decision was made to not put these as people driving divisional vans but to use a model … [that] could address these very difficult and complex issues, which often required us to put police at the regional level or at the divisional level."

The Chief Commissioner's comments put him on a collision course with the Police Association, which recently called on the state government to recruit an extra 1700 frontline officers. Recent figures have shown a drop in officers working at some Victorian stations.

Police Association secretary Ron Iddles said last week that frontline officers had to take priority. "If you don't have the foundations right, you're going to get cracks in the wall," Detective Senior Sergeant Iddles said. "Serving the community has to come first."

He said Mr Lay had committed five more officers to Geelong, after a union rally by off-duty police in the city last week. The union had argued that frontline officer numbers in Geelong were grossly inadequate.

With Henrietta Cook

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