Margaret River Police have been a staff member down due to the region’s rental crisis.
South West Commander Lawrence Panaia told the Times an incoming appointment to a vacancy in Margaret River was delayed for six weeks because the Department of Housing couldn’t find an available home.
“Housing is a complex issue – but (staff) shortages won’t be a problem in Margaret River,” Cdr Panaia said.
“Sometimes there’s a delay, but it’s never a delay that will affect policing in the region.”
Cdr Panaia said he believed “a house had been locked up” for the incoming officer on Monday, conflicting with Department of Housing claims a property was secured for the new staffer last week.
“WA Police have advised that the Margaret River station is not an officer short and there are currently no outstanding requirements for housing,” Department of Housing general manager of commercial and business operations Paul Whyte said.
“The incoming officer was accommodated in a vacant property previously tenanted by WA Police.”
However, Cdr Panaia told the Times there was difficulty finding a home for the officer filling the vacant role because the station’s former employee owned his own house, which couldn’t be passed on to the new officer.
Mr Whyte said the Government Regional Officers Housing favoured the re-allocation of existing properties, but when it wasn’t possible, the Department of Housing had to find a private lease or plan for future construction of appropriate homes in the location.
“An officer will not be transferred until a suitable property has been located,” Mr Whyte said.
Although six weeks was not an “extraordinarily long” appointment time according to Cdr Panaia, Margaret River had proved a “particularly difficult” place to find housing for employees.
Despite having problems finding homes for staff in the past, Cdr Panaia said he wasn’t worried about the issue in light of the December departures of Senior Constables Ross Bartley and Simon Bickers, who had been offered senior positions at other stations.
Snr Const. Bartley said staff vacancies were a “non-issue” as staff from other stations often covered for holidaying or absent officers.
“Resources can always be brought down here,” he said.
“Of course we would love to have 30 officers, but we can manage with five.”