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NSW less policed than all other states

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Emergency calls in western Sydney have a slower response time than the rest of the state. Photo: AAP
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NSW has the lowest number of police per capita of any Australian state and officers are failing to meet their own benchmarks for urgent calls.

The figures were revealed in a budget estimates hearing by Labor police spokesman Walt Secord.

“NSW has the fewest number of police officers in Australia – 244 per 100,000 residents,” he said on Wednesday.

Victoria has 312 operational staff per capita, Queensland has 285, Western Australia 291, South Australia 210 and Tasmania has 275.

Police Minister Paul Toole, who took over the portfolio four months ago, was asked about claims by Premier Dom Perrottet that NSW had more police officers than any other jurisdiction.

“That’s not true,” Mr Secord said.

“This is your own data, provided by your police service to the federal government.”

Mr Toole responded saying the government had made the largest commitment to additional police officers in 30 years.

“I … will ensure that our election commitments are honoured,” he said.

“I want to ensure that those police numbers and those resources are actually provided to those commands across the state as we actually said they would be.”

The NSW government committed in 2019 to 1500 additional police officers over four years.

Mr Toole said 600 non-probationary constables would be allocated to commands in coming months.

Meanwhile, police data for the 2020/21 financial year showed people in Western Sydney needing urgent police help faced some of the state’s longest wait times.

At least one in five urgent calls, where there was an imminent threat to life or property, were going unattended across three quarters of police regions, Mr Secord said.

The top 20 areas with the highest percentage of urgent calls not attended are all in the Sydney region, the majority in the city’s west.

NSW Police set their own benchmark of responding to urgent calls within 12 minutes.

Of the state’s 57 policing regions, 43 failed to respond to a fifth of calls within the benchmark.

Parramatta topped the state for slow response times with a 30 per cent failure to respond within 12 minutes, followed by Campsie and Liverpool City with 27 per cent.

Outside of the city, residents in the Lake Illawarra and the Manning-Great Lakes regions faced the longest waits, with responses to 23 and 22 per cent of calls respectively failing to hit time targets, while 21 per cent of Coffs Coast calls missed the benchmark.

Police received 158,773 urgent calls, with 75.7 per cent of those attended within 12 minutes.

Police Commissioner Karen Webb said Parramatta may have been affected by light rail construction as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You may also recall that police played a critical role during COVID in enforcing public health orders in highly-populated areas in western Sydney.

“The health orders that were in place for 12 LGAs were all in Western Sydney,” she said.

– AAP