CONDITIONS: Greg Piper outside Toronto police station.LAKE Macquarie residents have the most understaffed police force in the state and its police stations are in such poor condition that immediate upgrades are needed, the MP Greg Piper says.

‘‘I believe Lake Macquarie has the lowest police-to-population ratio in the state,’’ Mr Piper said.

The Liberal government said last week that Lake Macquarie would receive 18 more police.

‘‘The new officers are welcome, but they probably only address operational shortfalls from long-term leave and attrition,’’ Mr Piper said.

‘‘Lake Macquarie will still be grossly understaffed.’’

Lake Macquarie police commander Superintendent Craig Rae said the new 18 officers ‘‘put me in a fairly comfortable position, but we definitely needed them’’.

Superintendent Rae said he was aware the police ratio per head of population was ‘‘reasonably low’’ in Lake Macquarie.

‘‘Like all commanders, if someone was to offer me additional staff I would take them with open arms,’’ he said.

‘‘The police here do a fantastic job in protecting the community.’’

Superintendent Rae said crime statistics in Lake Macquarie were high because of its big population but per head of population, the area was in the middle range of the state for crime.

Police Minister Michael Gallacher’s spokesman said police resources in regional areas were being considered in a review conducted by former assistant commissioner Peter Parsons.

Mr Gallacher said the government had given Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione until May to respond to the review’s recommendations.

Mr Piper said police stations in Toronto and Boolaroo were in atrocious condition.

Toronto police station was a small 50-year-old office building and a demountable, he said.

‘‘The police prosecutors operate out of a converted garage,’’ Mr Piper said. ‘‘A separate house is used as a locker room by the 50 staff.

‘‘There is one shower for all staff and only one toilet for the 20 female staff.’’

There were no public toilets or access for disabled people.

‘‘Conditions are cramped and uncomfortable, with not enough room for desks and filing cabinets,’’ Mr Piper said.

Superintendent Rae said police would welcome modern stations and work was being done to provide that.

The previous Labor government had planned to build a police headquarters at Glendale, but the Liberal government was instead planning to spend $20million to upgrade police stations at Toronto, Morisset and Belmont.

The future of Boolaroo, Cardiff, Charlestown and Swansea police stations was uncertain.