From next week the Australian Federal Police will have no presence in WA outside the Perth metropolitan area, WA police have revealed.
A budget estimates hearing heard today that Broome’s one and only federal agent is being pulled out.
The move will leave regional parts of the state without an AFP presence from July 1.
It comes as WA police say their resources are coming under greater pressure from protests and riots at detention centres in the state.
Acting Deputy WA Police Commissioner Stephen Brown told the hearing that recent protests and riots at detention centres had placed greater pressure on the state’s police force.
“Whilst (the AFP) may have the lead in response to that, they turn to us very frequently to assist them in response to events within the detention centres,” Mr Brown said.
“The AFP recently withdrew their single, one and only federal agent from Broome. They have nobody outside the metropolitan area.”
During the hearing, Liberal MP Liz Behjat said the decision was “incredible” and government frontbencher Peter Collier, representing the WA Police Minister, called it a “bloody disgrace”.
Mr Brown said a protest at the Curtin detention centre in April required the services of local police for about four days.
The Department of Immigration refunds WA police for the cost of providing their services, but Mr Brown said they are still awaiting $72,000 owed for the April protest.
“It is one thing for us to get cost recovery for police resources that are drawn from the local community to police in and around the detention centres,” Mr Brown said.
“Whilst police are attending to those roles, they are not policing the local community.”
Mr Brown said WA police are currently in talks with the immigration department and the AFP about who takes responsibility for a “raft of issues” involving the policing of detention centres in WA.
A spokesman for the AFP said the agent was removed from Broome because of a lack of referrals and because it was decided the agency could service the rest of the state from its Perth office.The AFP has briefed local government and community representatives on the changes.
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