Labor Government must stem the flow of experienced officers from WA Police Force

Senior officers are walking away from an undermanned WA Police Force in unprecedented numbers.

It was revealed in estimates this week the police force is currently operating 500 officers below authorised strength and as of May 31, 90 officers had retired from the force this year, compared with yearly totals of 54 in 2022, 31 in 2021 and just 15 in 2020.

Authorised strength is the staffing level determined by the Government to be adequate to best serve the community.

Information provided by the State Government to Budget Estimates confirmed the shortage of officers was statewide and also that experienced officers were continuing to leave the force in increasing numbers.

The data showed metropolitan police districts were operating 383 officers short, while regional districts had a shortfall of 118 officers Shadow Police Minister Peter Collier, who requested the data, said the Cook Government was failing at every turn when it came to keeping the people of Western Australia safe.

“Experienced officers don’t walk away from the force in those sorts of numbers unless there is something seriously wrong,” Mr Collier said.

“In 2022, 192 officers with more than 10 years’ experience left the force, while another 134 officers with six to 10 years’ experience left the force.

“We need to be finding and attracting some of the best and brightest young minds in our State into policing, to re-engender pride in our police force, to make sure we offer the best wages and conditions of any force in the country and offer innovative and alternative career pathways.

“There is no innovative thinking or dedicated thought coming from this Government on how we are going to solve this problem.

“It’s just more of the same, which hasn’t worked.”

Mr Collier said the shortage of frontline officers presented a real threat to law and order.

“These numbers are particularly alarming for regional areas, many of which are experiencing explosions in youth crime,” he said.

“Regional districts have the added disadvantage of not being able to easily or quickly call on officers from other divisions if an emergency arises.

“Policing is becoming more and more complex and unless this State Government realises it needs to commit the funds and the expertise into making sure our police force is up to the job we are going to pay an increasingly heavy cost in terms of crime and lives.

“This is going to take more than the Police Minister going on a junket to England to tell them how great our beaches and weather is.

“That’s been done before and long term it didn’t pay dividends. Many of the officers recruited previously from overseas either returned within a few years, left the force for better paying jobs or were not a cultural fit.”

Mr Collier said the WA Government, the wealthiest in the nation, had spent six years chipping away at the real value of police wages and conditions and the result was the Police force was no longer the attractive career opportunity that it once was.