Regional South West communities are suffering from a drastic shortage of police because there are more incentives for officers to go to the State’s north, says the WA Police Union.
Union director and Pemberton Sgt Harry Arnott said regional stations were struggling to attract police officers because they could not match the lucrative incentives offered by their northern counterparts.
While the Warren Blackwood was sufficiently staffed at present, it had suffered prolonged shortages in the past and may do so again if the State Government did not address the situation urgently, Sgt Arnott said.
‘‘The WA Police Union has put together a package in relation to increasing locality allowances for the lower half of the State and we’re currently awaiting a response from the State Government,’’ he said.
‘‘WAPOL executive are working extremely hard to satisfy the shortfall, which includes seconding staff from metro areas to locations suffering from shortages of police officers.’’
A married police constable working at a northern station such as South Headland receives an annual living allowance of $32,000 and free rent in addition to salary, Sgt Arnott said.
In contrast, the same officer received just $1500 living allowance and only slightly reduced rent in the south of the State.
Katanning police station had a shortage of six police officers, Northam was short of nine, Bunbury needed five more officers and Australind had three unfilled vacancies.
‘‘Manjimup is currently short of one police officer, which is down to the natural attrition of staff and nothing out of the ordinary,’’ Sgt Arnott said.
‘‘However, that’s not to say the Warren Blackwood won’t suffer from future shortages again, as it has done for prolonged periods in the past, unless urgent action is taken.’’
Regional police officers are dedicated individuals who did their best despite increased workloads and stress from the job.
‘‘Until the State Government addresses this two speed economy the shortages will remain and regional communities will continue to suffer as a result,’’ Sgt Arnott said.
WA Police Minister Liza Harvey said the vacancies could be attributed to the regular movements of police officers throughout the State.
‘‘There are more than 250 full time equivalent across the South West District, and currently there are 9.5 vacancies,’’ the minister said.
‘‘This is not considered a shortage but I note the concerns of the Police Union and have made contact with them to arrange a meeting this week to discuss this as well as a number of other issues.’’