The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS ( 15:29 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Police a question regarding SAPOL officer participation in community groups.
The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: In September this year, the officer in charge of the SAPOL Reform Project, Superintendent Bob Fauser, during an interview with Ali Clarke on ABC 891, responded to a question regarding officers continuing involvement in community groups by saying:
…these organisations respect the police and they ask that they [ being police ] be involved on boards and on committees and things like that ...sometimes individual police officers choose to engage in those types of programs.
The minister, in response to questions on this subject in this place, also stated:
Of course police officers in their own time are more than able to take up whatever causes they see fit , and many do. Many police officers go above and beyond their specific call of duty in their own time, but others are able to do it through the course of ordinary events , where it is appropriate to do so.
This is a matter of continuing community concern around South Australia. Nothing that the minister or SAPOL have publicly stated has come close to allaying concerns from community groups that they are about to be abandoned. My question is: will the minister guarantee that, where appropriate, SAPOL officers will be able to commit paid work time towards participation in and contributions to vital community and leadership development organisations?
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) ( 15:31 ): I thank the honourable member for his question. I think it is really quite a tribute to the men and women within the South Australian police force that they are keen to be actively engaged with respective community groups. I think there are a number of police officers who do that with enormous pride and virtue, and I think again it speaks to the calibre of the type of men and women who are attracted to serve in such roles. I can think of a number of community organisations which SAPOL officers get involved in.
Many of them volunteer in sporting groups, some of them may even volunteer in other emergency services, but SAPOL police officers do regularly partake in a whole range of different community groups, and that is healthy, drawing links between community groups and police officers themselves. When it comes to what police officers do while they are on paid time, that of course is not a decision for myself; that is a decision that is operational. What police officers do on their paid time is principally a call for the police commissioner. I have confidence in the police commissioner making the best possible decisions about how to use the very substantial resources that are at his disposal to ensure that police fulfil their mandate of keeping the community safe.