Published by Cobram Courier online and in print on April 30, 2014.

Many residents would be all too familiar with the Cobram police station answering machine.

‘‘The Cobram police station is currently unmanned,’’ the recording says. ‘‘In an emergency, hang up and dial 000.’’

But Moira Shire councillor Wendy Buck is urging residents to demand better from the Victorian Government.

She is leading the charge to petition government for a funding increase that would enable the station to remain open 24 hours a day.

Cr Buck said an unmanned police station was putting residents in danger.

‘‘Criminals know when the police aren’t on (duty),’’ she said.

‘‘It’s an open slather for crime here. Criminals are all over what our police are doing — they listen in to their radios.

‘‘We’re a target because we don’t have a 24/7 police station.’’

State Member for Murray Valley Tim McCurdy said he had spoken to Police and Emergency Services Minister Kim Wells about funding a 24-hour police station in Moira Shire, but said it would be up to police and Mr Wells to decide whether the station would be in Cobram or Yarrawonga.

‘‘It’s always up to police decide where best to use manpower,’’ Mr McCurdy said.

Cr Buck said it was important for a country town like Cobram to have a station constantly manned because the ‘‘tyranny of distance’’ meant it would take too long for police from other stations to arrive at local incidents.

Mr McCurdy said he discussed other options with Mr Wells to have a round-the-clock police response in Cobram.

‘‘A 24-hour police station is not about somebody sitting in the police station with a light on 24 hours a day,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s about having police on the beat 24 hours.’’

At last Tuesday’s council meeting, Cr Buck urged other councillors to throw their support behind the campaign.

They unanimously supported Cr Buck’s motion to lobby the Victorian Government to fund a 24-hour police station at Cobram.

Cr Marie Martin, Cr Kevin Bourke and Cr Gary Cleveland spoke in favour of the motion.

Crs Martin and Bourke said they thought there was a need for a 24-hour police station in Cobram.

Cr Cleveland said he thought it would help ‘‘make sure the community was safe’’.

A spokesperson for Mr Wells said the allocation of additional police and operational hours was a matter for the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police.

‘‘The Minister for Police Kim Wells will make enquiries with the Chief Commissioner regarding police resourcing in Cobram and surrounding areas,’’ the spokesperson said.

Victoria Police was unable to provide statistics about the incidence of crimes committed during times when Cobram police station was unmanned.

Cobram police were unavailable for comment before publication.

AuthorToni Brient