MEMBER for Eastern Victoria Region, Edward O’Donohue, has raised concerns about a lack of police presence in Cowes when construction commences at the station today.
The rebuilding of the station will mean police will be moved off the island to the San Remo station for the duration of construction.
Some community members are worried that there will be a reduction in police services on the island during this time.
In a parliament session on Tuesday, March 7, Mr O’Donohue directly requested that the Minister for Police intervene, and ensure that a replacement temporary station is located in Cowes to provide an ongoing police presence.
“When existing police stations are demolished or refurbished, it is usual practice that a temporary police station site be identified and that the cost of that be incorporated in the project,” Mr O’Donohue said.
“In this situation the Cowes police are being relocated to San Remo, and after the intervention of the Bass Coast Shire Council an agreement has been struck where police can be located at the council offices one day per week.
“My concern is that police will therefore be taken off the island and located at San Remo, and if an emergency occurs, they could be some time away from response, particularly on busy weekends. For example, we have Easter coming up and school holidays. Traffic can get very busy during that period.”
Mr O’Donohue said many people living in Bass Coast have made contact with Bass MP Brian Paynter, voicing their concerns regarding a lack of police presence on Phillip Island.
“I know there has been commentary in the local media that a police presence will be maintained and that patrols will take place, and I do not doubt that, but at the end of the day when police members are starting and finishing their shifts off the island, when they need to complete paperwork and other administrative tasks at the station, which is off the island, the only conclusion you can draw is that there will be a reduced and potentially significantly reduced police presence on Phillip Island,” Mr O’Donohue said.
“In off-peak times the commute can be relatively quick, but when there is a lot of traffic, when it is extremely busy, that bridge between San Remo and Phillip Island can get very congested and the traffic can be very slow moving across the island.”
Local police members from Wonthaggi to Cowes, meanwhile, have been working hard to assure the public that there will be no reduction in services while the renovations take place.
Several community meetings have been held, both in Wonthaggi and on Phillip Island, to speak directly with the community to address their concerns.
Both Cowes and San Remo Police Units will continue patrols as per usual.
Members of the public wanting to speak to police or have document signatures witnessed will be able to do so at the San Remo police station or at the Cowes Cultural Centre, Meeting Room 2, where police will staff a temporary office one day per week.
Exact days and times will be announced soon.
The new Cowes police station building is due to be completed in time for the busy summer holiday season at the end of the year.