Police shake-up on hold as ‘guinea pig’ officers stressed
The rollout of a new program designed to streamline Queensland police operations has been halted after the police union threatened to go to the industrial court.
In a three-page letter to Assistant Commissioner of Police, Cameron Harsley, Queensland Police Union of Employees (QPUE) General Secretary Mick Barnes called for a stop to the rollout of the new Service Delivery Redesign Project (SDRP) only four weeks into the program's pilot that started in the Moreton Police district on February 8.
In the March 12 letter, Mr Barnes wrote that several police officers had claimed the changes were resulting in additional fatigue, having to work a "double-quick shift" after night work, and there was a lack of staff available to actually implement some of the changes.
"Given the number and seriousness of issues that have now been articulated by the QPUE membership, I now respectfully request that the continued roll out of the SDRP across the state immediately be put on hold until the … issues have been addressed," he said.
"Please note that we reserve our right to take this matter to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission on dispute if we are unable to resolve these issues."
Changes includes general-duties police no longer immediately attending lower-priority jobs - such as break-ins where there is no imminent threat of danger - to free up resources for more serious crimes such as domestic violence.
Scenes-of-crime or forensic officers would instead be sent to break-ins when they are deemed non-urgent, which would also avoid doubling up on the number of officers who attended the same low-risk job.
Many of the lowest-risk calls to police will now be dealt with over the phone or internet.
QPS Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski, 61, told the Courier Mail on Tuesday he had just left a meeting with officers in the trial district and, following the discussions, the decision had been made to "pause" the rollout of the new program to other districts for at least a month.
"We agree with (their concerns), so we're slowing it down," he said.
"We're pausing it for four weeks.
"The Commissioner (Katarina Carroll) is all about trying to make the community safe as well as trying to make it easier for our troops, so of course we are going to listen to them."
Mr Gollschewski said before the program postponement, the changes were scheduled to be introduced in the South Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns and Logan districts over the next fortnight, with plans to eventually roll the changes out to all stations in Queensland's 15 police districts.
"Moreton, being the first one, is a bit of a guinea pig," he said.
"We are trying to make sure we do make it right before it goes broader.
"We're now not going to roll it out anywhere else until we do the work to make sure it's on track and to make sure we support Moreton district troops."
He said police districts throughout the state first had to provide a baseline of information of their needs before any new resources or changes could be made to their respective areas or staffing levels.
"First they need to map their demand, such as how many people, resources and calls for service they are getting," Mr Gollschewski said.
"We're a community safety agency. The commissioner wants to make sure our resources are going to the things that matter the most.
"When the service has done business the same way for the last 25 years, it's a difficult journey to implement change and to make sure it actually does work."
In the letter, Mr Barnes had also stated there were concerns some of the changes would result in the "deskilling" of investigators and that officers now had to attend domestic violence calls that did not require an in-person response, under the new SOLVE, or Severity, Opportunity, Likelihood, Vulnerability and Expectation system.
The SOLVE framework comprises the introduction of updated codes, used by staff in police communication centres, to help triage calls so jobs can then be assigned to officers in order of priority.
An urgent job will be assigned as 'code one' while the least non-urgent job is assigned as a code five on the grading scale.
The SDRP was developed after Commissioner Carroll ordered a review of the service after she took the helm in 2019.
That review found demand for police had increased by 45 per cent in the past five years while triple-0 calls had increased by 65 per cent.
Mr Gollschewski said it was the first time in QPS history that a new service model had been initiated.
"Never have we implemented a new service delivery model that encompassed a full review and change to the way we receive, respond to and investigate crime," he said.
"This was always going to be a momentous task, and I thank everyone for their commitment and willingness up to this point in helping us find opportunities to improve our business and in doing so, improve the level of service and value we provide the community."
Originally published as Police shake-up on hold as 'guinea pig' officers stressed