Liberal leader Zak Kirkup has committed to boosting police numbers in the Great Southern to tackle an alarming increase in assaults as part of a $500 million guarantee to bolster the state’s Police Force with an extra 1200 officers.
Mr Kirkup said it was unacceptable that the Labor Government had not given the Great Southern its authorised full-strength police numbers.
“Assaults have increased by 35 per cent in Albany under Labor and violent crime is out of control and at record levels in regional Western Australia. It is appalling that Labor are failing to protect people in these communities,” Mr Kirkup said.
“Our hard-working police force in the Great Southern are crying out for more resources. They have eight fewer officers than they should have, so it is no wonder there has been such a significant spike in assaults.
“The Labor Government have dropped the ball when it comes to law and order. The Police Minister needs to explain why the latest figures from October reveal that 14 of the state’s 16 police districts are under-strength.
“The Liberals will commit to more boots on the ground throughout the entire state, including providing the Great Southern with a full-strength police force which will provide officers with more capacity to reduce crime.
“Our commitment to an additional 1200 police officers shows how seriously we value protecting the safety of West Australians.
“Bolstering the police force is a central plank of the Liberals’ plan for a safer, smarter today and a better, brighter future for our local community.”
Liberal candidate for Albany Scott Leary welcomed the commitment to extra police resources for his electorate and other significant announcements which would help the local community feel more secure.
“Communities like the Great Southern are desperate for a larger and more visible police presence,” Mr Leary said.
“The public know that only a Liberal Government will provide enough frontline police officers to keep our communities safe from rising violent crime.
“We have a hard-working police force in the Great Southern, but it is completely unacceptable that they are operating with eight fewer officers than authorised.
“The Liberals will provide an extra 300 police officers to regional WA, a commitment which will give the Police Commissioner the extra resources he needs to ensure the Great Southern has the maximum number of officers.
“Our residents deserve to feel safe when they venture out into the community. They should also be able to feel safe in their own front yard and in their own home.”
Under the Liberals’ plan for regional WA, we will also commit to:
- Extending the operation of the Sex Offenders Management Squad to regional WA. According to the police union, currently there are no Sex Offender Management Squad officers in the regions despite nearly 1000 offenders who require close supervision living and working in regional communities across WA.
We will establish a permanent and dedicated presence of Sexual Offenders Management Squad officers in Albany, Geraldton, Carnarvon, Kalgoorlie, Bunbury, Broome and Kununurra to protect our regional communities from dangerous sex offenders.
- Establishing the Rural Stock Squad. Stock theft is the most significant rural crime. Armed with covert CCTV, this squad will stop stock theft which unfairly impacts our pastoralists and graziers. The squad will also work with local police to address farm machinery and equipment theft.
- Establishing the Regional Retail Theft Unit. As part of the Small Business Retail Theft Squad, this unit can be rapidly deployed to regional towns across the state to deal with anti-social behaviour, shoplifting and organised retail theft.
The Liberals will also commit to:
- Bolstering the Organised Crime Squad. We will provide the WA Police Force with 1200 additional police officers. This gives the Police Commissioner the extra resources he needs to bolster the Organised Crime Squad and tackle record levels of violent crime and outlaw bikie gang warfare.
- Establishing the Hoon Response Group. They will be equipped with mobile hoon cameras, to respond rapidly to dangerous and anti-social behaviour in any suburb or town across Western Australia, including the illegal trail bike activity that is plaguing many communities across the state.
- Establishing the Small Business Retail Theft Squad. They will tackle shoplifting, anti-social behaviour and organised retail theft in shopping centres and in small businesses across the state.
- More Police to Tackle Fraud and Scams. Additional police officers will boost the Financial Crime Squad and Technology Crime Services to tackle financial crimes against West Australians and small businesses.
This boost in resourcing will also assist in tackling the corruption in the WA public sector, including in government procurement, identified by the Corruption and Crime Commission.
- Boosting the Sex Assault Squad. Additional specialist resources will boost the ability of police to respond to sexual assaults and to provide victims with respectful, non-judgemental support and understanding. This follows on from our commitment to the $3 million Domestic Violence Forensic Unit trial.
- Boosting the Sex Offender Management Squad (SOMS). The police union has identified critical understaffing in this important unit that protects the community from dangerous sex offenders. Currently, the recommended case load per officer is 40 medium risk offenders but some officers have been dealing with up to 100 offenders, making their job much harder and risking the safety of our community.
To protect our children, the Liberals commit to:
- Boosting the Child Abuse Squad. Additional officers will be provided to protect our children from physical, sexual and psychological abuse and neglect.
- Boosting the Online Child Exploitation Squad. There will be a significant increase in the number of specialist police officers to tackle the scourge of child exploitation in the online environment.
- Trialing a new In-School Police program. The Liberals will conduct a two-year trial in 10 at-risk schools where serious violence, bullying or anti-social behaviour is impacting on the learning environment of children.
The in-school officers will focus on safety and education in collaboration with teachers and school staff to provide a calming presence, rather than taking a punitive approach.
To protect our seniors, the Liberals will commit to:
- Establishing the Elder Abuse Unit. This will prevent and tackle financial, physical, sexual and psychological abuse and neglect.
- $20 million CCTV for Seniors Fund. The Liberals commit $5 million per annum for CCTV and other electronic security devices for home security, on a matching basis, to give seniors peace of mind.
The Liberals will also commit to:
- Spending $60 million on four new police stations. These will go to communities in desperate need of a stronger police presence. We have already announced that Kalamunda will receive a new $15 million station.
- $5 million for Local Community CCTV. We will commit $5 million to give local governments up to $25,000 to purchase CCTV to protect the local community – grants that WA Labor axed.
- $200,000 for mobile hoon cameras. The Liberals will commit to 20 specialised mobile hoon cameras to provide the necessary resources to our new Hoon Response Group.
- $4 million in additional funding for Police Mental Health Support. Police officers can be exposed to severe trauma in the course of their duties. They deserve much greater care and support in dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions resulting from their service to the community.