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Reception hours reduced at Epping police station

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Epping police station is among 43 across Victoria to temporarily reduce its reception counter hours.

Epping, a 24-hour station, will have a revised classification of ‘all hour response, reception eight hours a day’ as part of phase two of the changes.

The nearest police stations that will be open are at Mill Park, six kilometres away, and Mernda, 12 kilometres.

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The first phase of the changes will be introduced at the end of November, with 23 police stations to reduce hours.

Phase two will include 20 stations earmarked to start reducing hours over coming months. 

In a Victoria Police statement, regional operations Deputy Commissioner Neil Paterson said when a station reception counter was closed, police would ‘always be patrolling the local community and in many cases, still working from within the station’.

Officers formerly rostered on reception shifts will instead be used for frontline policing duties, such as community patrols.

Mr Paterson said the changes gave police the best opportunity to respond to urgent incidents, prevent crime before it could occur, and engage with large sections of the community.

“Make no mistake – Victoria Police is not closing any police stations,” he said.

“Reception counter hour reductions will occur predominantly during the evening or overnight when we know they are rarely attended.”

The changes in station hours allows greater flexibility with rostering at a time when Victoria Police is managing a significant number of officer vacancies due to attrition.

“Every Australian policing jurisdiction is currently experiencing resourcing challenges and police counter reductions are also occurring in other states,” Mr Paterson said.

“When given the choice, police know crime is most effectively deterred and detected via highly visible patrols in the community, rather than from behind a scarcely attended reception counter.

“The vast majority of people attending police stations do so during the day, most regularly to have statutory declarations signed or documents certified.

“Redirecting officers towards frontline policing duties will increase the likelihood of crime being prevented, offenders being arrested, and the community remaining safe.

Mr Paterson said further scheduling work was underway and once confirmed, the community would be notified about the exact dates.

Signage will be displayed on any police stations affected by counter reductions – redirecting the public to the nearest open reception counter, and the Victoria Police website will also show amended station counter open hours. 

Shadow Minister for Police Brad Battin said the service reductions followed confirmation that there were 319 fewer serving officers now compared to 12 months ago, and spending on recruitment advertising was down 20 per cent compared to the year prior.

“These frontline service cuts are the results of Labor’s failure to invest in our police services and will result in poorer community safety outcomes,” Mr Battin said.

“Only weeks ago, the government assured Victorians there were no issues with police staffing, yet now we see cuts to key frontline services.”

In an emergency, the community needs to call triple zero. People can call the Police Assistance Line for non-urgent reports.

Updated reception counters will remain at all 43 stations while Victoria Police continues to recruit to fill current vacancies.  

For more information on the reduced hours, visit www.police.vic.gov.au/reception-counter-hours-reduced-police-prioritise-community-patrols.

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