WA Police may not be recruiting the right candidates for the job, according to Auditor General Colin Murphy in a report to Parliament today.
The report also predicted the force would fall short of its target of attracting 200 extra officers by 2013-14, was failing to meet identified benchmarks in attracting female and Aboriginal recruits.
Mr Murphy found the process of becoming a WA Police officer was three-pronged – a recruitment selection process, six months intensive training at the police academy and 18 months on-the-job probation.
He found that almost every recruit passing that stage would go on to pass the academy and probation “placing heavy reliance on the selection process – but there were indications that it does not always identify the ‘right’ candidate.”
Mr Murphy said the selection process was based on the ’22 dimensions of a police officer’ criteria which were developed in 1987 and in need of review because modern policing was very different to 25 years ago.
“Psychological testing is also used as part of the recruit selection process, but there is inconsistency in how the results of these tests are reviewed and often the results to not match final recruitment decisions,” he said.
WA Police has a target of 30 per cent female officers but in 2011 was reaching only 21 per cent, “one of the lowest compared to other Australian forces”, he said.
WA Police was also falling short of its target 3 per cent indigenous officers, currently reaching just 1.7 per cent.
Mr Murphy said bringing new recruits off probation was once a reward for good performance, but now appeared to be the norm.
But the Auditor General did not find that there were armed uniformed officers walking around who shouldn’t be on the force.
WA Police welcomed the Auditor-General’s report and moved to reassure the public that its recruitment selection and training processes were stringent and of an extremely high-standard.
Assistant Commissioner of professional development Gary Dreibergs, said that while the Auditor-General had identified some areas for improvement, the foundations of police recruit training in WA were very sound.
“We do not compromise on quality and we always strive to improve training and education for police officers. The recommendations of the Auditor-General will assist us in this aim,” he said.
“Between 2007 and 2012, the WA Police trained 2140 Police officers and I can say to the public that the WA Police Academy is a very professionally-run training facility with a strong record of turning out high-quality, well-trained police officers.
“The senior management within the Police Academy set high standards and these standards will always test both staff and the recruits in training.”
Mr Dreibergs said that while the Auditor-General raised concerns regarding the recruiting targets set by Government, he was confident strategies existed to deliver the numbers.
“The current program is on target, and the first 30 additional police officers will commence on 4 July 2012.“WA Police has a proven track record of delivering on police numbers and will continue on this path. It is of note that we are likely to be 50 over strength by the end of this month and this position will significantly assist us to deliver the additional numbers.”
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