Bellarine beats: police keep finger on the pulse

February 20, 2020 BY

Leading Senior Constable Dean Pierce with Ocean Grove Primary School student Ava, 5, joined by Phoebe, 9, acting vice-principal Kristy Hannan-Cuthbertson and Samuel, 8.

AN INNOVATIVE system launched by Bellarine police last year, is keeping police members active and involved across local secondary and primary schools.

Sergeant Shane Connolly said the Bellarine Police Station assigned individual police members to local Bellarine primary and secondary schools; accompanied by an online email system that provides direct access between sergeants and schools.

“We created a new school liaison program last year – we have 17 schools and each school now has an allocated member. We set up an email base to help make it easier for schools to report to and contact us,” Sgt Connolly said.

“Last year we had well over 100 emails from the schools. We found before this, schools would ring up and be dealing with different police. This program allows regular police attendance and consistency.

“The schools take photos of any damage or vandalism and email it through, they can ask us questions and provide more information. The email system runs 24/7, monitored by all the sergeants.”

Senior Sergeant Adrian Bickley said the new approach allowed schools to seek advice and relevant information for difficult and “stressful” issues that fall outside mandatory reporting requirements.

“Some issues that have been identified by Bellarine Police members include enquiries due to traffic complaints and issues around intervention orders,” Sgt Bickley said.

“These issues may fall outside of mandatory reporting requirements but can be stressful to deal with for staff. In 2019, Bellarine police received numerous requests for police members to attend local schools.

“Members received reports of graffiti and other damage and assisted in dealing with difficult family conflict. The increase in intervention orders and personal protection orders enabled police to provide professional advice and assistance.”

Sergeant Connolly said while staff are encouraged to contact 000 in all urgent matters, the new system is a convenient and efficient way for police to provide support.

“The objective is to open up the channels, we receive information and adjust our patrols accordingly. If we’re made aware of drivers in a hurry in school zones, our members can go out there and support the school,” Sgt Connolly said.

“This year we’ve already been contacted about antisocial behaviour occurring on weekends at a school, so hopefully we can step up our patrols in that area.”

Sergeant Connolly said the new approach will provide consistency across the board and a chance for the community, schools and police to get to know each other better.

“It’s about the police taking an interest in the kids, and the students getting to know the police in return. We can monitor all of the information coming in and provide professional advice and support
where needed.”