I wish to raise a matter for the attention of the acting Minister for Police and Emergency Services in the other place. Last month I posted a Facebook post regarding the reduction in the number of police officers in the City of Casey.
This post received a very substantial response from the local community, with in the order of 250 comments made on that post, and concerningly the tenor of many of those comments was not concern at the fact that the number of police in Casey had been reduced but rather expressing the view that it was a good thing because there was no confidence in the police.
Comment after comment on that Facebook post refer to the police as agents of the government, refer to the police as being too busy fining people about COVID, refer to too many cops chasing non-mask-wearing people, and on and on it went.
Comment after comment were expressing concern about the actions of Victoria Police in relation to COVID, were expressing concern that frankly we were better off without those police in Casey.
This is a very concerning development. Where things reach a situation where the standing of Victoria Police as an organisation has been so badly damaged by the actions of the government and the way in which the government has used Victoria Police around COVID matters, it is of great concern and it is a great risk to the community.
Victoria Police and its members need to be held in high esteem by the Victorian community.
In order to do their job they need to be held in high esteem by the Victorian community.
In order to ensure the safety of those members of Victoria Police they need to be held in high regard by the Victorian community.
It is very clear from the comments on this Facebook post that is no longer the case. The reputation of Victoria Police as an institution has been badly damaged over the last 12 months, and that has caused great risk to members of Victoria Police who are on the front line.
So the action I seek from the acting minister for police is to work with Victoria Police as an institution to restore the damage that the government has done to Victoria Police, to restore the reputation of Victoria Police as an institution and, in doing so, ensure that there is the protection for Victorian police officers who are on the front line to ensure that there is the standing necessary for Victoria Police to be effective—that that standing is restored in the community.
What has happened over the last 12 months to the reputation of Victoria Police is regrettable, it is highly damaging and it must be restored.
It is the fault of the government.
They need to step in and act and fix it.