Final custody officers added at Bendigo police station

Police custody officers Erin Williams and Conrad Foskett at the cells in the Bendigo police station. Picture: GLENN DANIELS
Police custody officers Erin Williams and Conrad Foskett at the cells in the Bendigo police station. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

BENDIGO police station has achieved a full complement of police custody officers, reducing the amount of time uniform police spend on custody shifts by 90 per cent.

The last of the 21 custody officers was added to the station following graduation on Friday.

The program was introduced in 2016 to free up uniform police from the administrative and time-consuming tasks of transporting prisoners, organising their meals, managing equipment and checking prisoner paperwork.

Those tasks are now completed by police custody officers, who are distinguishable by their grey uniforms and are not operational police officers.

Since January 2016, they have served 6438 shifts at the Bendigo police station.

Four-hundred police custody officers were deployed to 22 stations across Victoria.

The measure cost the state government $149 million in the 2015/16 state budget.

Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan said the policy had freed up local police to spend more time responding to the community’s needs.

“With police custody officers now in place at Bendigo police station we’re seeing a huge reduction in the number of police officers carrying out custody shifts and more opportunity for police to get out into our community,” she said.

On Monday, the Coalition announced it would introduce a Police In Schools program at 10 “at-risk” metropolitan and regional secondary schools.

The program involves one police officer engaging with school students to “restore respect” for police and the community.

Victoria is the only state in Australia without the program.