Vic top cop willing to stay on in crisis

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton says he might stay on to help tackle COVID-19.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton says he might stay on to help tackle COVID-19.

Victoria's police chief might push back his retirement to lead the force through the coronavirus crisis.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton is due to retire in June after taking the top job in 2015.

But he would consider staying on during the COVID-19 emergency, if the state government asked.

"I retire in June, that's the end of my contract, so it's not my decision," Mr Ashton told 3AW radio on Thursday.

"You would be silly not to consider that because these are difficult times and you always want to serve the community if you are in the police."

But he knows his contract is not the government's priority now.

"Obviously something you would give careful consideration to if it was discussed, but the government have got a lot on their plate at the moment," he said.

Asked about Mr Ashton's comments, a government spokesperson said their focus is ensuring police have the most appropriate responses to slow the spread of the virus.

"That is our priority and we'll continue to assess what is needed to ensure Victoria Police is in the best position to meet community needs," the spokesperson said.

The Police Association has called for the government to declare a state of disaster to give its members greater powers during the health emergency.

About 500 police officers are enforcing the closure of non-essential services in the state and the mandatory 14-day self-isolation for travellers.

Individuals face fines of up to $25,000 and businesses could be fined $100,000 for breaching restrictions.

Victoria has recorded its first two coronavirus deaths and the state's total number of confirmed cases has risen to 520.

Australian Associated Press