$800K  bill for police slash plan
Review: WA Police seek to slash costs. Picture: Mogens Johansen/The West Australian

WA Police have revealed they are spending $800,000 on consultants to tell them how to cut costs and improve efficiency.

A team of local and international advisers has spent months embedded inside police headquarters working on sweeping reforms - described by Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan as the biggest shake-up of policing in decades.

Cost reduction is a key part of the reform process but the commissioner claims the consultancy bill will be recouped many times over as projected savings kick in.

The Frontline 2020 reform project was launched last year to find ways to "operate leaner" and "reduce demand" on police resources in the face of shrinking budgets.

But few details have been released about how those objectives will be achieved, raising concerns among politicians from both sides of Parliament about the direction the force is taking.

The West Australian understands that a parliamentary committee is planning to examine the work that has been done to ensure community safety is not affected as a result of cost cutting.

Senior police could be compelled to give evidence at public hearings, which could start in the second half of this year.

Labor's Margaret Quirk chairs the Community Development and Justice Standing Committee which also includes former Police Minister Rob Johnson.

Mr O'Callaghan said he would welcome the opportunity to explain in detail the reforms he said were about putting more officers on the street - not fewer - which could only help to improve safety.

Every aspect of the way the force does business is under review.

One of their key consultants, economist Malcolm Anthony, oversaw 20 per cent cuts to the Manchester police budget in 2011.

Thousands of officers around Britain lost their jobs, while others took pay cuts to meet the new budget requirements.

Nothing that drastic is planned here, but dozens of backroom jobs have already been scrapped and it is expected some specialist squads will be axed and others amalgamated to trim cost and put more officers out on the road.

Police unions from around Australia are keeping a wary eye on developments in WA.

WA Police Union president George Tilbury will travel to Britain this month to see firsthand the effect reforms have had on policing.

The West Australian

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