New England Police Superintendent Scott Tanner leaves for new job on North Coast

On the move: After more than two-and-a-half years, New England Police Superintendent Scott Tanner, pictured in Armidale this week, has left to take on the top job in Richmond Police District on the North Coast. Photo: Peter Hardin
On the move: After more than two-and-a-half years, New England Police Superintendent Scott Tanner, pictured in Armidale this week, has left to take on the top job in Richmond Police District on the North Coast. Photo: Peter Hardin

Superintendent Scott Tanner has left the New England Police District for the last time as he takes on a new role on the North Coast.

The former Manilla and Gunnedah officer has been at the helm of New England for the last two-and-a-half years, and has taken on the commander's role of Richmond Police District, based out of Lismore.

He admits the move came as a surprise, and sooner than he expected. But he said he's leaving on a good note with "some really good reductions in crime", and the community engagement with police "has just gone through the roof especially through the COVID period".

In New England, he's overseen more than 20 police stations, more than 230 staff plus another 30 in highway patrol in an area stretching from Uralla, north to the Queensland border and west to Mungindi, taking in towns like Bingara, Warialda, Boggabilla, Moree, Glen Innes, Tenterfield and Inverell.

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One of the biggest learning lessons from him in the top job - his first since being promoted from inspector in 2017 - has been tackling juvenile crime rates.

It's an issue that has plagued the New England in Armidale and Moree in recent years.

"We spent a lot of time and effort trying to devise programs and looking at fancy things to really solve what is probably a very common sense approach and that is just to have basic good communication and good relationships with young people," he said.

"And Moree is a classic example of that, where on the Saturday nights we go and pick the kids up, take them down and give them a feed, give them something to do, something to play and drop them home, and make sure they're safe."

On the move: New England Police Superintendent Scott Tanner, pictured in Armidale this week, has left for the top job in Richmond on the North Coast. Photo: Peter Hardin

On the move: New England Police Superintendent Scott Tanner, pictured in Armidale this week, has left for the top job in Richmond on the North Coast. Photo: Peter Hardin

Reducing road trauma, property crime and domestic violence have been some of the other issues close to his heart after working his entire career in general duties, on the police truck.

"When I first got here our legal action for assault for domestic violence was 34 per cent, that's now up to 86 per cent," he said.

"For breaches of an apprehended violence order we were sitting at 58 per cent before I got here and now we're at 98 per cent.

"Whilst they're figures, they are also people, and it heartens me to think that we've actually helped those people.

And probably most pleasing is our repeat victim stats has actually gone down, so less people are becoming repeat victims.

Superintendent Scott Tanner

"And probably most pleasing is our repeat victim stats has actually gone down, so less people are becoming repeat victims."

He points to long-running drug investigations that saw multiple offenders arrested after secret operations like Strike Force Janian in Armidale and Strike Force Helmich in Moree, that made a dent in drug-fuelled offending and property crime.

"They were significant drug networks that we knocked over," he said.

"They're they things that I will reflect on and think, 'yeah we did do a good job, the team did a good job'; now the challenge is to take those wins to another area".

On the frontline, it's New England 1 - the top cop - and he's not afraid to get his hands dirty out on the beat. Something he hopes he never loses.

"That's why we joined, the thrill of the chase, the thrill of the hunt and making that difference," he said.

"I guess I've always been someone that wants to be on the front foot, be with the team, you know I don't want to be away in the office crunching away at numbers, crunching away at a computer screen, it literally bores me to tears, so to be proactive with the team and I guess set the benchmark of where we want to be."

He took the helm of the new New England Police District after Barwon was axed and amalgamated into it in 2017.

"A lot of people thought that it could never work because Moree and Armidale are so diametrically opposed in regards to demographics, and locations and size," he said.

"But you know what made it work was the people, because they knew it was a good thing, and we've seen our staffing levels increase, I think at latest count it is 19 or 20 extra staff we've been able to add through the course of the amalgamation.

"Moree is about to get another two sergeants on our frontline; we've increased our proactive units - all these really good things we've been able to achieve, which we wouldn't have been able to under the old structure."

While he'll miss his staff, the towns and the people, there'll be jobs he won't forget.

"There's a couple of jobs that pop to mind, like when we were out at Mungindi, there was a couple of people who were doing some real bad stuff with guns and stealing and things, and we had local support by people in helicopters, but we were able to access 30 police in a heartbeat," he recalled.

"And we got them all from our own district and we got external support later on, but all the ground stuff we were able to do ourselves.

"You draw it out, I think the communities like Mungindi show what it means to be engaged with their police, they went above and beyond in everything they do.

"They're the things I will miss."

This story More police on beat, crime down: Tanner leaves top cop post on a high first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.