Crime rates have fallen 4 per cent in the first three months of a new trial in Perth's worst crime district, where 200 police officers are dealing with dysfunctional families and problem areas rather than responding to routine calls for help.
Police in the south-east metropolitan district are divided into response and local policing teams in a bid to improve complex crime and social problems that Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan has warned cannot be fixed just with tough penalties and more enforcement.
When he launched the strategy in November, he revealed about 100 local families were deemed as needing a high level of intervention and 20 were in such critical situations they received daily police attention.
Insp. Brad Royce cautioned yesterday that it would take years to deal with many of the multi-generational problems and some families did not want to be engaged but said early indications were positive.
There had already been a 43 per cent fall in the number of times police had to attend the "top 20" homes and locations in each of the six sub-districts, which were identified before the trial began.
"Families are a big part of the community and if you have one that's dysfunctional in any way, it's a great drain on our resources and it's a sense of angst for the rest of the community," he said.
Despite diverting 200 officers to local "problem-solving", the 24/7 response teams had kept response times for priority calls comparable to the rest of the metropolitan area, Insp. Royce said.
Police released initial results of the strategy amid calls for increased early intervention with struggling families, which came after Mr O'Callaghan told _The West Australian _ he believed more children should be taken from neglectful parents to help curb the spiralling juvenile crime rate and "save" a generation.
Mr O'Callaghan revealed yesterday an 11-year-old boy with a neglectful home life had ended up in juvenile detention after he was caught in Burswood on Friday night breaching a curfew.
"This idea of leaving him in the care of parents or relatives and we're now in a worse situation than we were last week ... he's now in Banksia Hill detention centre," he said.