A CORONER who investigated the death of a Russell Island teenager says there are too few police officers on the island.
Coroner John Hutton said in the findings of an inquest into the death of Ethan Stephenson that police numbers should be increased to assist with enforcement activities involving speeding and drink and drug-driving.
Mr Hutton said he thought a recommendation by former officer-in-charge Sergeant Graham Staib for four permanent police officers was reasonable.
The station was opened as a police beat in 2008 and increased to a two-officer division in 2011.
Fourteen-year-old Ethan Stephenson died after being hit by a drunk driver while walking or riding his skateboard along the edge of Centre Road, Russell Island in June 2014.
Sergeant Staib was the only police officer on duty on the island to attend to the crash.
In response to the findings, a police spokesperson told Redland City Bulletin they were considering the recommendations .
Mr Hutton said Acting Superintendent Craig Huxley told the inquest significant resources supported policing operations on the bay islands.
“These include additional police from Redland Bay, Redland Bay Water Police, Capalaba Road Policing Unit and Bayside Tactical Crime Squad,” the coroner said.
Mr Hutton said Acting Superintendent Huxley stated the allocation of police resources was not based on a police to population ratio.
“Calls for service, demographics, availability of other resources and the population numbers are all considerations in allocation of resources,” Mr Hutton said.
However, Acting Superintendent Huxley had acknowledged they were not able to roster the officers to meet the demand on the island.
Mr Hutton said a review was being conducted to determine policing needs on the bay islands and how to overcome issues in attracting and retaining staff in those stations.
The coroner also recommended a vehicle-mounted mobile radar for speed enforcement and a drug saliva-testing device be allocated to the island and police trained in their use.
“...Because Russell Island is a distinct island community, with an increasing population, and no availability of health practitioners to conduct blood testing after hours, a saliva drug testing device should be allocated.
“This is likely to increase community faith in police drug testing procedures and act as a deterrent for drug drivers,” Mr Hutton said.
“Safety should be the priority on the island.”
Redlands MP Matt McEachan, who has repeatedly called for more police resources on the bay islands, said it was encouraging to see some inquest recommendations had been implemented.
“However, locals know that current police numbers on Russell Island are simply inadequate given demand, a view which was affirmed by the coroner,” Mr McEachan said.
Mr Hutton said since Ethan’s death council had installed a footpath along Centre Road.
Mr Hutton also recommended the inter-governmental Redland City Speed Management Committee conducted a speed review of Russell Island roads and consider reducing the speed limit from 60km/h to 50km/h, with exceptions for some roads that should be 40km/h.
He also called for the Transport Department to consider a bus service on Russell Island.
“A public bus service would provide clear safety benefits to the growing community by keeping vulnerable residents (such as children and elderly people) off roads that are not serviced by footpaths.”