The South West’s police chief has hit back at claims the safety of residents is being compromised by staffing shortages, saying the shortages were ‘‘not really an issue’’.
South West District Superintendent Lawrence Panaia also said police officers did not need a cash incentive to work in the region as they had the luxury of living in an area close to tourist attractions and the State’s capital city.
The rebuttal comes after Opposition spokesman for the South West Mick Murray said the ‘‘severe’’ shortage of police officers was a result of a flawed incentive scheme.
There are eight positions vacant in the Bunbury and Australind depot and another two in Collie out of more than 100 positions in the offices.
Supt Panaia said incentives provided for officers in the northern part of the State were not from WA Police but via Royalties for Regions funding.
‘‘In terms of living in the South West, I don’t think we necessarily need to offer an incentive,’’ he said.
Supt Panaia said the vacancies were ‘‘not really an issue’’ for the district.
‘‘Particularly in an agency like this where you have a lot of movement — you’ve always got vacancies somewhere,’’ he said.
‘‘Mid-year is quite a difficult time to attract people because people with families have to uproot their kids, it tends to be easier at the end of the year.
‘‘It’s not really an issue in terms of these vacancies, people come and go.’’
Mr Murray, however, said he was concerned how the shortages would affect the community.
‘‘I’m concerned that law and order is being compromised in the South West because the current government is so focussed on service provision in the north of this State,’’ he said.
‘‘We are in a situation where there is severe undermanning at local police stations.’’
Supt Panaia said there were many strategies in place to recruit people and the vacancies were part of a ‘‘normal’’ mid-year drop.
‘‘Alot ofthatis approaching people to come down here— we advertise internally, go up to the academy and do lectures and see if we can recruit them that way,’’ he said.
‘‘I can give you an undertaking that service delivery doesn’t suffer because of vacancies. ‘‘It’s just a normal flow of people in and out.’’