COPS NEED TOP-UP

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Caitlyn RintoulGeraldton Guardian
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Police vehicle.
Camera IconPolice vehicle. Credit: Geraldton Guardian

The number of Mid West officer vacancies has been described as “less than ideal” by the WA Police Union, with lobbying under way to ensure minimum staffing numbers are maintained.

It was revealed the WA Police Force held 95 unfilled positions in regional areas.

In the Mid West Gascoyne district, officer numbers were reportedly 16.5 below the required quota.

WA Police Union president Harry Arnott said the issue was not isolated to the Mid West-Gascoyne District. “When you talk about a lack of police resources, it is currently a Statewide issue,” Mr Arnott told the Midwest Times.

“One of the main reasons why there are gaps throughout the agency relates to the 150 police officers who left the WA Police Force in June last year as part of the last round of voluntary severances.

“The WA Police Force has advised the union that it anticipates that the gaps will remain in place until those 150 retired police officers are replaced by new recruits, which should happen by mid-2020.

The vacancies are less than ideal, however the community needs to understand that police officers are committed to looking after their local communities and they will always go that extra mile to ensure the community is protected.

“A significant factor is the uncertainty around Government Regional Officer Housing rent increases and the quality of the housing being supplied is also a contributing issue.”

The gap in resources was revealed by Nationals MP Martin Aldridge, who labelled the lack of numbers “unacceptable” and urged WA Police Minister Michelle Roberts to do more to ensure the regions had their full quota of officers.

“Rural areas aren’t getting the police cover they deserve and considering the concerns in particular areas about rural crime, illicit drugs and traffic enforcement, these police shortages are not assisting,” Mr Aldridge said.

“With the Mid West-Gascoyne district 16.5 officers below its required quota ... there is a very uneasy mood among those communities.”

In early September, $1 billion of illicit drugs was seized by chance off the Mid West coast following the disbanding of WA’s only regionally-based water police vessel, leaving the force relying on fishermen and marine rescue volunteers for surveillance and transport.”

According to Mr Aldridge who is The Nationals WA spokesperson for Police and Road Safety, the South West is 19.17 officers under the mark, Goldfields-Esperance 20.5, Great Southern 5.7 and the Wheatbelt 18.25.

Mid West Gascoyne District Superintendent Roger Beer was contacted.

A Geraldton Police Station spokesman attributed the unfilled positions to operational reasons, saying the situation was “normal”.

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