SAPOL Restructure

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS ( 14:39 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Police a question about the continuing access to SAPOL officers by community groups.

Leave granted. 

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: Honourable members will be aware of the mooted changes to policing in South Australia through SAPOL's organisational restructure. What has become apparent to a number of community groups that I am involved with throughout the state, such as Neighbourhood Watch, White Ribbon, Blue Light and Suicide Prevention Networks, just to name a few, is that the valuable access these groups have enjoyed to local SAPOL officers, and particularly those with a community policing focus, may be under threat. 

In one recent example, a SAPOL officer communicated to members of a particular community group their unfortunate inability to serve on that body's committee. The officer indicated that due to the SAPOL organisational restructure, they were reluctant to put a hand up for a position, as they did not know how long their role would be continued. I will paraphrase what the officer then said, and it goes along the lines of, 'Given this, I do not believe I can give the position my all, as I will be forced into a new role that will not allow me the flexibility to attend any meetings.' 

This is not an isolated example and this is concerning a number of members of local community groups and, of course, local SAPOL officers alike. Given this, my questions are: 

1.Does the minister support SAPOL officers continuing to work closely with community groups such as Neighbourhood Watch, White Ribbon, Blue Light, Suicide Prevention Networks and many others? 

2.Will the minister commit to enabling SAPOL officers who have served with local community groups on behalf of SAPOL, and who wish to continue to do so, with the support of those particular groups, the opportunity to continue to serve the local community in such a way? 

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) ( 14:41 ): I thank the honourable member for his question. To get straight to the questions the Hon. Mr Dawkins has asked, I am not in the business—and this will not come as a surprise to you—of telling the police commissioner how to do his job in terms of allocating resources and so forth, but to the remarks in your question regarding the organisational reform what I can generally say is this. I think that everybody involved in policing, whether they be from the government or from SAPOL generally, more specifically the police commissioner, has acknowledged that community policing, which can take a number of different forms, does play an important role when it comes to community safety in South Australia.

  You mentioned, in your list of examples, Neighbourhood Watch. Neighbourhood Watch is a very good example of an organisation that sits outside of SAPOL, that runs itself relatively independently, that performs an incredibly important function in elevating the issue of community safety and drawing the public's attention to the fact that when it comes to community safety we should all assume a degree of responsibility by ensuring we have mechanisms whereby we can engage with each other, report various acts of crime and the like. This helps SAPOL in getting on with the business of apprehending those people who do the wrong thing and indeed preventing crime in the first place, which is exactly why this government has committed to the Neighbourhood Watch reinvigoration project with a very substantial investment attached to it, of $1 million, and potentially more. 

We are committed to forms of community policing. Our commitment to Neighbourhood Watch I think is second to none, a very substantial investment to ensure that the reinvigoration project delivers outcomes which will preserve and indeed improve the role of Neighbourhood Watch going into the future, including as the organisational reform that the police commissioner is currently undertaking plays itself out. The elements of the organisational reform in particular include the district policing model, which is specifically designed to enhance what is currently called neighbourhood policing. 

I understand that it is top of the police commissioner's mind to ensure that through this organisational reform process there are more front-line officers engaging directly with the community. In fact, that lies at the very heart of what the police commissioner is trying to do. That is an effort that I endorse. Of course, if you take resources from one place sometimes it may necessitate taking resources away from another. I think what is important is that the sole objective of this organisational reform effort is to improve SAPOL, make sure it is operating efficiently, not taking for granted the fact that this government has provided SAPOL with more resources than ever before in its history, not taking that for granted but instead making sure that what resources it does receive are allocated as efficiently as possible. That is something that all people in this chamber, including the Hon. Mr Dawkins, would want to see occur in order to make sure we have a safer South Australia. 

The PRESIDENT: Supplementary, the Hon. Mr Dawkins.