South West police shortages are being investigated by WA Police Minister Liza Harvey as debate ensues over whether South West officers should be offered financial incentives to work in the region.
Ms Harvey said she was talking to WA Police andthe Police Union about how to attract and retain officers in the South West.
There are 12 vacancies across three branches in the Greater Bunbury area.
Ms Harvey said police did not consider the amount of vacancies ‘‘an unacceptably high number or one that would pose any significant operational impact.’’
‘‘A range of strategies are being worked through including attending the police academy to recruit officers as well as officers from the South West District proactively contacting other officers,’’ she said.
‘‘A project is currently under way that will recommend a variety of strategies for filling outstanding vacancies.
‘‘I am also in discussions with the Commissioner of Police and the Police Union regarding attraction and retention requirements for police and will be closely monitoring the situation.’’
State Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said a combination of salary and housing incentives could be the answer to the shortage.
‘‘If you can’t attract police officers there is a problem,’’ he said.
‘‘It needs to be a combination of pay, of allowances, of potentially housing and the like and that’s the sort of thing Royalties for Regions should be used for.’’
Officers in the State’s north are provided financial and housing incentives via Royalties for Regions funding because of the high cost of living.
A married officer based in Port Hedland is given a bonus of about $33,000 and free rent.
WA Police Union Great Southern director Harry Arnott said an incentive of about $10,000 for a married officer with a family who is based in Bunbury or Australind would help entice people into the area.
‘‘Officers shouldn’t get paid the same amount as those in Port Hedland but this would help cover rent,’’ he said.
‘‘There are considerable vacancies in the south of the State but this would help attract people.’’.