Low police numbers push officers to “breaking point”

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times

More than 70 per cent of WA Police Union members in Bunbury and the South West do not believe their station has the numbers as increasing police workloads push officers to “breaking point”.

A damning survey released by the union this week revealed shocking commentary from frontline officers who say their safety and that of the community is at risk because of increasing work and staff shortages.

Union president George Tilbury told the South Western Times the anger and frustration from police extended to Bunbury and the survey of more than 1000 members across the State confirmed the “dire” situation.

“Approximately 61 per cent of members in the South West District reported that their workload has increased over the past 12 months,” Mr Tilbury said.

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“Nearly 76 per cent don’t believe their station or section has enough officers.

“The lack of back-up for regional officers is a serious safety concern.

“If we don’t fix these resourcing issues now, crime will spiral, more people will die on our roads and morale will fall to an all-time low.”

Police apologised for “embarrassingly” slow response times and revealed some jobs were being written off all together without police attendance, according to the survey feedback.

Mr Tilbury said the union wanted an extra 1000 officers over four years.

The survey comes as questions have continued to go unanswered on an exact date when Bunbury will get the extra 38 police officers promised in 2015.

As official State Election campaigns kicked off yesterday, candidates for the seat of Bunbury were quick to weigh in on the subject.

Liberal candidate Ian Morison said the Government was in the process of recruiting officers to Bunbury and the positions “should be filled shortly”.

He said between 2013 and 2017 an extra 550 officers were recruited across the State.

“You can’t come to a government and say we need more police numbers when we’ve put on more police numbers,” he said.

Labor candidate Don Punch hit back saying the extra 38 officers were “yet to materialise” and his party’s plans for a new police station to support Capel and Dalyellup would add to resources.

Nationals candidate James Hayward said it was “mischievous” for the union to reveal the survey results before first going to the Government and while the idea of more officers was a good idea, his party’s plans for a Safer Bunbury Taskforce would be an effective way to tackle issues.

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