It has been revealed in Parliament in questions from Shadow Police Minister Peter Collier this week that not only is the Western Australian Police Force operating at a net loss of officers, but a far higher number of experienced officers are leaving the force than in the past.
The latest figures show that on June 30th 2021, there were 6,927 sworn police officers, and over a year later that number has seen a net decrease to 6,911. Alarmingly, there has been a decline of almost 100 officers since June 30th of this year.
This is in complete contrast to Police Minister Paul Papalia’s election promise to increase the number of police by 250 for the next four years.
It has also been revealed that since 2019, the number of experienced officers leaving the force has skyrocketed.
In 2019, 24 police officers who had been on the job between 6-10 years resigned from the WA Police compared to 103 this year so far. 37 police officers with over 10 years’ experience resigned in 2019 which has jumped to 111 this year.
Mr Collier said despite Police Minister Papalia boasting apparent record recruitment numbers, we’re seeing record resignation numbers.
“The numbers speak on the dissatisfaction of officers with the management of the WA Police by this Labor Government.
“Minister Papalia’s constant gloating about increased police numbers is empty rhetoric.
“The reality is that the number of police officers on our streets has actually declined in the eighteen months since the election.
“This issue is compounded by the fact that we’re losing our most experienced and seasoned officers, leaving less to mentor the next generation of officers waiting to be sworn into duty. They take with them a wealth of experience.”
Mr Collier said it doesn’t surprise him that police officers were leaving in the numbers they are, with many officers suffering mental health issues with very little time to switch off.
‘We’re seeing unprecedented numbers of police employees accessing mental health services’ said Mr Collier.
As revealed by Mr Collier in Budget Estimates in June, 777 WA Police employees accessed mental health programs in 2019, which in 2020 doubled to 1657 and in 2021 shot up further to 2619.
This is in direct correlation of police resignations, with 236 resignations between January and May this year, compared to 108 in 2019 and 22 resigning in the last week alone.
These figures come at a time when answers to questions from the Police Minister confirmed that response times for Priority 1 incidents in the Perth District had almost doubled (from 2.9 minutes to 5 minutes) since the Labor government was elected in 2017.
Mr Collier said that ‘This was a serious cause for concern, given that Priority 1 incidents involve an imminent threat to life.
“Police are faced with enormous challenges in an increasingly complex society. It is a shame that so many officers are choosing to leave the profession, particularly those with years of experience.
“Rather than beating his chest on his achievements, the Minister must acknowledge that there are some serious cultural issues that currently permeate the police force. He needs to address these concerns, or the situation will inevitably deteriorate further.”