Member for Morwell Russell Northe has welcomed the introduction of new legislation in State Parliament this week, increasing the role of Protective Service Officers (PSO’s) in Victoria.
“I congratulate the Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville and her Government, upon the introduction of PSO changes within the Police and Emergency Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2020”, Mr Northe said from Spring Street.
“The original introduction of PSO’s in 2012 was a very welcomed initiative. I recognised the significance of their role and subsequently pushed to have the program rolled out in my electorate as a matter of priority. At the time, I pleaded with the Government to include rolling this service out to transport hubs such as the bus terminals at Mid Valley Morwell and the Traralgon Plaza”, Mr Northe reflected.
“The legislation introduced today seeks to expand the time, place and reasons where PSO’s can be deployed – including during a state of disaster, critical incidents, crowded public spaces, sporting and entertainment events”.
“Whilst the exact locations of the deployment have not been announced as yet, I look forward to working with the Government to ensuring priority public spaces in our community will benefit from these changes”, Mr Northe commented.
“We know that the Victorian community greatly value the role of PSO’s in keeping commuters safe and protected. I’d like to acknowledge and thank our local PSO’s who work tirelessly in watching over, aiding and supporting our local community”.
“Expanding their role is a move that makes sense – PSO’s are a visible presence that meaningfully engage with the community to provide a safe environment for all”, Mr Northe stated.
Mr Northe said he hoped that PSO’s might also be allocated for local public transport services and to enhance the safety of bus drivers, train staff and commuters.
“Back in February 2018, I announced a community safety policy (attached) that called for greater flexibility of where PSO’s could be stationed and I am pleased to see the Government have adopted some elements of that same policy” Mr Northe said.
“However, I still believe that transport authorised officers are required on a more permanent basis in our community to deal with anti-social behaviour and fare evasion on our public transport network. And if it’s not authorised officers then maybe PSO’s should be given even greater flexibility to travel on local public transport services for these purposes” Mr Northe said
Northe proposes Transport and Community Safety Improvements
Member for Morwell, Russell Northe has today sought Government support for a new pilot program that will enhance safety at local train stations, taxi ranks and bus terminals and on our public transport networks.
After receiving substantial feedback from many stakeholders including passengers, businesses, police and employees of bus, rail and taxi services, it has become apparent that we have a significant problem with crime, fare evasion and anti-social behaviour either whilst waiting for transport or on transport services themselves.
“It’s not acceptable that commuters and drivers are feeling unsafe and I firmly believe the pilot initiative I am announcing today will deal with some of the issues our community is currently experiencing,” said Mr Northe
Mr Northe proposes a 2-year pilot program to recruit 8 x Protective Service Officers (PSO’s) and 6 x Transport Authorised Officers (AO’s) and preferably these positions would be recruited from local residents within the Latrobe Valley.
“The program would see PSO’s having a presence at bus terminals, taxis ranks and railway stations across the Latrobe City municipality,” Mr Northe said.
“PSO’s would be interchangeable and placed in problematic locations rather than at fixed locations which is currently the case,” said Mr Northe
“AO’s would patrol our trains and buses within Latrobe City boundaries to help deter fare evasion, antisocial behaviour and assist passengers with relevant travel information.” said Mr Northe”
The recruitment of the PSO’s and AO’s would enhance public safety by ensuring a greater respect for the law abiding commuters, provide greater protection for train, taxi and bus employees, whilst also cracking down on fare evaders.
“I intend to raise this important proposal with the relevant State Government Ministers and hopefully for all stakeholders and our community more generally a positive response will be provided,” Mr Northe said.
Transport & Community Safety Improvements
- Feedback received from the community including from passengers, from local businesses and from drivers and staff on our trains, buses and taxis indicate that crime and anti-social behaviour are a significant problem on transport and public transport options within the Latrobe Valley. People are concerned about their safety whether they be waiting at a train station, taxi rank or bus terminal and also whilst travelling on our trains and buses. Fare evasion is considerable as is anti-social behaviour and these issues need to be tackled head on as does employment given the lack of innovative job creation strategies within our region.
- A way to action this is by recruiting and training 8 Protective Services Officers (PSO) and 6 Public Transport Authorised Officers (AO). The first principle would be endeavouring to recruit the PSO’S and AO’s from within Latrobe City boundaries to help tackle high unemployment in the region.
- The PSO’s would be utilised by way of having a presence at train stations, taxi ranks and bus terminals within the Latrobe City area, including Stockland Plaza Traralgon, Mid Valley Morwell and the Moe and Morwell railway stations. PSO’s would be interchangeable across the municipality and be placed at hot spot areas.
- AO patrols will occur on trains and buses within the Latrobe City area, to deter anti-social behaviour, to tackle fare evasion and to assist commuters who require information relevant to their travel. Current behaviour on trains and buses is causing many people to choose alternative travel arrangements.
- The recruitment of the PSO’s and AO’s would enhance public safety by ensuring a greater respect for law abiding commuters, provide greater protection for train, taxi and bus employees and personnel, whilst also cracking down on fare evaders.
- To create a 2 year pilot program designed to increase employment, improve public safety and increase usage of our public transport services
- Recruitment of 8 locally based PSO’s to provide a presence at railway stations, taxi ranks and bus terminals across the Latrobe City to ensure the safety of commuters and staff.
- Recruitment of 6 locally based AO’s to “ride” the rail and bus services ensuring public transport laws are being upheld.
- Undertake analysis of the pilot at 6 month intervals to measure the successes. Success will be measured by:
o Public transport commuter usage
o Safety and Incident reports
o Costings of the program
o Public consultation/feedback
- Success of the pilot would lead to a longer term commitment of resources to continue services within Latrobe City and possible roll out to other regional areas.
It is estimated that this policy would require a budget of approximately $2.8m. With costs being offset by increased revenue from:
- Increased commuter usage of our public transport services
- Decrease in fare evasion from people using our public transport services
- Fines for those who breach laws including fare evasion and anti-social behaviour
5 KEY POINTS
- Innovative job creation
- Sustainable jobs that make a positive difference to our community
2. Enhance Community Safety
- On our train services and at railway stations
- On our bus services and at bus terminals
- At taxi ranks
- For V/Line staff, taxi drivers, bus drivers and staff
- Deter anti-social behaviour
- Every resident within our community has the right to feel safe whether that be in the home or using transport
3. Fare evasion
- Cost burden to State Government and tax payers
- Support current workforce, in avoiding confrontation from fare evading commuters
4. Increase use of transport and public transport
- For the elderly who may be unable to drive, to families who enjoy trips with their children, and for young people who may not have a licence.
- Those that need to utilise transport and public transport for work purposes will feel safer at stations, ranks and terminals.
- Those that use public transport for health and social inclusion outings will benefit by feeling safer on their preferred mode of transport