Anxious Gungahlin waits on police station study

Ian Bushnell23 July 2021
Gungahlin Police Station

Gungahlin Police Station is more than 20 years old and no longer fit for purpose. Photo: My Gungahlin.

A feasibility study for a new Gungahlin police station that could accommodate more officers is still underway as patience wears thin in the growing district.

An ACT Government spokesperson said funding had been allocated in the last budget for the study and Justice and Community Services had contracted consultant GHD to look at options for police accommodation in Gungahlin.

Police Minister Mick Gentleman was asked in the Assembly about the study three months ago but did not say when it would be complete.

Another study is looking at the Winchester station in Belconnen.

“These feasibility studies will inform the plans for improving the stations and the Government’s next steps,” said the spokesperson, who could not say when the work will be completed.

The ageing police station was an issue at last year’s election with the Liberals promising a new facility, and it continues to bubble in growing Gungahlin.

The AFP Association’s Troy Roberts who spoke to the last community council meeting, said the more than 20-year-old joint services facility was no longer fit for purpose and was not big enough to cater for the needs of community or ACT Policing.

Mr Roberts said the association advocated either building a new station on another site in the town centre or moving fire and ambulance staff to a new facility on Horsepark Drive and redeveloping the current site.

He said officer numbers in Gungahlin were lower than other stations and even if ACT Policing wanted to deploy more they could not be accommodated.

“There is nowhere for them to sit – no lockers, no desks,” he told Region Media.

“The exhibit desk is used as the main meal table in the kitchen.”

Mr Roberts said there was only one holding cell and no interview room to take victims’ statements.

“You could be getting a statement from someone and the offender is right next door,” he said .

Equally, people taken into custody did not have any privacy when brought in to the back of the station which is now surrounded by high-rise residential towers.

Mr Roberts believed Gungahlin police numbers should now be on a par with other stations, saying the much-touted falling crime statistics did not tell the whole policing story.

He said police attended a lot of incidents where there was no crime such as missing persons, mental health, noise and suspicious activity reports, as well as being visible in the community as a deterrent.

Gungahlin Community Council president Peter Elford said the size of the station had not grown in 20 years and the Government needed to act as soon as the study is completed.

“Whenever police attend a meeting there is a lot of passion from residents about thefts, incidents with firearms and general antisocial behaviour and hooning,” he said.

Mr Elford said that Gungahlin’s large youth component and it being a construction site and prone to theft presented a case for more police not fewer.

He said resources need to be steered into community policing.

“Just having the presence is half the battle,” Mr Elford said.

The Government did not answer questions about the station not being fit for purpose or whether Gungahlin needed more police.

The spokesperson said the Government had set invested $33.9 million over four years to enable ACT Policing to transition from a response-focused police services model towards a community and crime prevention model of policing for the ACT.

The Government was also fitting out ACT Policing’s new Road Policing Centre in Hume.

Original Article published by Ian Bushnell on The RiotACT.

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