Police chief fears for town in crisis

Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan has branded Meekatharra as WA's domestic violence capital, saying the rate of alcohol-fuelled family assaults in the "crisis" town is twice the national average and the highest in the State.

It comes as a woman was left clinging to life after a domestic incident in the town on Wednesday.

Police found the woman, believed to be in her 30s, unconscious at a home in Queen Road about 3.45pm.

She was in a critical condition in Royal Perth Hospital last night.

A 36-year-old man is helping police with their investigation.

Mr O'Callaghan said more than 80 per cent of family violence incidents in Meekatharra involved alcohol abuse. "That is about twice the national average and is the highest in Western Australia for domestic violence," he said.

"We are so concerned that about 18 months ago we made a submission to the Director of Liquor Licensing about imposing some restrictions to give that town a bit of a break and create a hiatus so we could go in there and do some work.

"But we are still waiting for an outcome."

A spokesman for the Director of Liquor Licensing said the police submission was referred to local licensees and stakeholders for comment. "A determination will be made in the near future," he said.

Mr O'Callaghan said it was his understanding "people in local government" resisted tougher liquor restrictions in Meekatharra because it affected their business interests.

"But we are talking one or two people as opposed to an entire community that is in crisis," he said.

Shire of Meekatharra deputy president Peter Clancy manages the town's only stand-alone bottle shop. He would not be drawn on the Commissioner's comments but said his business hours were limited compared with elsewhere.

Mr O'Callaghan said liquor restrictions in Kimberley towns such as Halls Creek had been so successful that police officers had been redeployed because of less demand for their services.

The West Australian

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