MPs join police union to rally against comms centre move
THE Queensland Police Union is taking up the fight for the Ipswich Communications Centre on behalf of the 27 civilian and police staff who will be affected if the centre closes.
Union president Ian Leavers said he would accept nothing less than an assurance from the Queensland Police Service that they would reverse a decision to relocate staff to Brisbane.
Staff were notified of the QPS' plans by an email from Communications Group Commander Superintendent Glenn Horton last Thursday afternoon.
While Superintendent Horton does not give an exact timeline for the move, Ipswich police and staff have been told to expect it to happen by March next year.
The rationale for the move is simple; the QPS wants to centralise communications in order to eliminate the older computer systems used in Ipswich and make full use of its newer (computer-aided dispatch) QCAD technology.
The QPS clearly does not see any merit in introducing QCAD to Ipswich and is of the opinion that communications could be handled from Brisbane.
The announcement has led to uproar, not just from the Police Union boss, but also from local and state government representatives.
Member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard said she was disappointed with the decision and that she would stick up for her constituents.
"This flies in the face of what the former Anna Bligh Labor government was trying to achieve through its support of regionalisation," she said.
"The relocation of families away from Ipswich is a major concern for me."
Despite her initial refusal to go on the record in The Queensland Times - due to her insistence that the decision was an operation matter - Police Minister and Member for Bundamba Jo-Ann Miller released a statement that seemed to support the move.
"I have made it clear to the Commissioner that if police communication centres relocate, it needs to be consistent with this government's pledge to protect public service jobs," Ms Miller said.
"The consolidation of communication centres is designed to leverage the benefits of new technology such as the digital radio network to ensure the best possible policing response for Queenslanders."
Ms Miller's position puts her at odds with Ipswich West MP Jim Madden, who intends to hold talks with the Police Minister this week.
"I want to talk to the Minister as soon as possible because I am concerned by this announcement," Mr Madden said.
"I want to hear from her as to why this is necessary, but I am hoping to have the decision reversed.
"Our government has a commitment to employ more public servants in Ipswich but this goes against that commitment.
"I want to increase the number of public servants employed in Ipswich, so I would be disappointed by any decision that saw fewer public servants employed here."
The loss of local geographical knowledge is one of the main arguments against the move, with those within the Ipswich police telling the QT that familiarity with specific locations is a major part of the job. The Police Union and local politicians including the Mayor and Cr Andrew Antoniolli have also pointed out the local communications centre's valuable partnership with Safe City.
Mr Leavers said he'd been given an assurance that the Government will reconsider its decision.
"That in itself is not enough," he said. "We want them to rule it out.
"This decision was made by the Police department without any consultation with the Police Union or affected police and staff.
"To suggest you can make a decision and then have "consultation" is nonsense."
The Union and local State Members plan to meet with Ipswich police and staff at Yamanto this week.