Fraser's unique policing precinct
NOT MANY police sergeants could name everybody in their jurisdiction. But Roger Williams just about pulls it off.
The names roll off his tongue as the officer in charge of Fraser Island police tries to count the people who permanently live on the island.
In an island world where police and law enforcement are anything but conspicuous, Sgt Williams is only the second police sergeant to have been stationed on Fraser and Senior Constable Bill Worden is the third of his rank.
Sgt Williams believes two officers are sufficient for the 123-kilometre stretch of island but admits the distance can be an issue.
That is why the two men stayed at Waddy Point this week, to allow uninterrupted access to the northern end of the island.
The police rely on their relationships with the locals, the barge operators and the parks and wildlife rangers to ensure any offenders on the island are caught.
“If you’ve been up to mischief, we know we can ring up those people and make sure you don’t get off the island,” Snr Const. Worden said.
But, he says, holidaymakers know this.
“People do understand they are going to get caught here much more than anywhere else.”
It is a unique policing precinct.
But while they can attend to various jobs, from assisting the island’s sole paramedic to finding lost property for tourists, traffic issues are their main concern, particularly because the island has a harsh habit of chewing up and spitting out its drivers.
“I think we get a lot of them in holiday mode, so they will relax and do silly things like driving with their kids on their lap or not wearing a seatbelt,” Sgt Williams said.
“They think they are driving on a beach but it’s a highway. So it’s fairly important to get the message out early.”
Snr Const. Worden believes speed is a key factor in many of the island’s crashes.
“If you can slow people down, their vehicles won’t roll,” he said.
“And if you can keep them on four wheels, you’ll stop them from killing themselves.”
Snr Const. Worden says he strongly supports the introduction of 4WD tag-along tours, where an experienced driver will lead up to four other vehicles around the island.
He believes there should even be an incentive for people to do the tours, such as being allowed on parts of the island where self-drive vehicles aren’t.
“I hope people support the tours and that they are really promoted,” he said.