Union calls for more cops in bush

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
A police officer runs past the Seven West Media Geraldton office as he looks for a woman who lead police on a short chase on foot, earlier this year.
Camera IconA police officer runs past the Seven West Media Geraldton office as he looks for a woman who lead police on a short chase on foot, earlier this year. Credit: Geraldton Guardian

Violent crime in Geraldton has risen 11 per cent in the past financial year, according to shadow police minister Peter Katsambanis.

The Liberal MP flung the statistic at Premier Mark McGowan in Parliament recently to grill him on police shortages in regional WA in the wake of offending upticks in Newman, Bunbury, Albany and Kununurra. According to the WA Police Union, there were 90 long-term police vacancies in the bush, equating to the removal of 400 police cars from the road every week.

In Parliament, Mr McGowan said crime rates in some regions “bounce around” but the “overall picture” indicated a decline in offending.

He said crime was multi-faceted and there were more ways to reduce and address crime in the community than increasing police numbers.

“That is why we have our meth action plan, why we have our meth rehabilitation prison for women, and will shortly introduce one for men,” Mr McGowan said.

“That is why we have our job strategies.

“That is why we have halved the price of 34 TAFE courses to get more students into TAFE.

“We have all sorts of community engagement programs all over Western Australia to get people involved and active in our community

“It is wrong to think that crime is only one aspect.”

Between July and September, Mid West and Gascoyne police dealt with more than 3000 crimes across 19 police stations.

Meanwhile, recent government moves to provide more than 50,000 hours in police overtime to address an expected summer crime rise were slammed as inadequate by the union.

A union spokesman said the Government was missing “the bigger picture.”

“The additional 55,000 hours of overtime will simply see police officers conduct normal policing duties for longer, nothing else — no special operations, just basic police work,” he said.

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