Assaults against public officers in the Mid West and Gascoyne have risen higher this year than anywhere else in WA, jumping by more than 70 per cent. From January-September this year, 74 assaults against public officers were reported in the Mid West-Gascoyne police district compared with 43 in the same time in 2021, according to WA Police data analysed by the WA Police Union. This represents an increase of 72.1 per cent. The second-biggest jump was in the Kimberley, with a 60.9 per cent rise. Mid West-Gascoyne police Insp. Jon Munday said the jump in figures could be attributed to officers taking a hard line on tackling crime and antisocial behaviour, because in most instances assaults occurred during an arrest process. “Here in the Mid West — and in most communities — we’re taking a hard line and unfortunately people are becoming arrested. People can be angry and aggressive, whether it be from drugs and alcohol,” he said. “The guys and girls on the road aren’t taking a step backwards when holding people to account for their bad behaviour. They’re going to work to serve the community, not to be any target of aggression.” Statewide figures show there were 834 police assault offences reported from January-September in 2021, and 925 during the same period this year, equivalent to an 11 per cent increase overall. In regional WA, assaults against police jumped by 22.6 per cent this year compared with 3.2 per cent in the metropolitan area. The Kimberley reported the most offences, with 111 police assaults so far this year. The Pilbara reported 83 offences, with police assaults rising 13.7 per cent. The Great Southern region had a 37.5 per cent rise in police assaults with 22 offences so far, while the Wheatbelt remains consistent with last year’s figures, rising 4 per cent at 26 assaults. The Goldfields-Esperance and South West regions were the only districts to see a drop in police assaults this year, by 4.6 per cent and 35 per cent respectively. Insp. Munday said the numbers broke down to an average of one or two assaults per week and noted there wasn’t a large number of serious assaults in the Mid West-Gascoyne district. “Any assault on a public officer is concerning, but it is expected to happen. We see people at their worst and we have to deal with them at their worst,” he said. “It’s food for thought with the community too. If you assault any public officer in the course of their duty, it attracts a mandatory jail term, so it’s a very serious offence.” The police union and the WA Government are currently embroiled in an ongoing pay dispute, with the union this week threatening to direct its members to issue cautions rather than fines for low-level traffic offences and to block mobile speed cameras. WA Police Union president Mick Kelly said it was concerning rates of assaults against police officers were at a 10-year high and had been trending upwards for the past five years. He said 27.8 per cent of the assaults involved foreign-body matter such as blood or spit. “It’s disturbing and affects the mental health of our officers due to the long waiting times for blood tests they need to have to see if they got any diseases from the offenders,” he said. Mr Kelly said members who formally resigned earlier in the year had attributed assaults on themselves and increased aggressive behaviour as some factors contributing to their leaving the force. “There’s a lack of respect for people wearing a uniform, but I think locally in regional WA, the Government and local councils need to work with our police officers and encourage programs to keep youth at school and keep them involved in community activities,” he said. The maximum jail term for assaulting a public officer is 10 years, and up to $36,000 in fines. Assaulting and causing bodily harm to an officer results in a mandatory six-month jail term.