WA’s new Police Commissioner sets his agenda

Chris Dawson. Photo: AAP
Chris Dawson. Photo: AAP

WA’s new police commissioner has refused to be drawn into an increasingly bitter pay dispute that the union claims has cost the state $13 million.

Officers want a 1.5 per cent wage increase but the state government has capped all public servants’ pay rises at $1000 a year, sparking industrial action that has included issuing cautions rather than fines for minor offences.

The union has now told police prosecutors in magistrates courts to not seek costs associated with arrests and summonses, which it estimates will cost the government up to $100,000 a day.

Chris Dawson, who will take over from Karl O’Callaghan on September 11, believes there’s room for compromise on both sides but says he will not interfere in the process.

“Any commissioner or CEO who says ‘look, I don’t want to give my staff a pay rise’ is heading for a kicking,” Mr Dawson told reporters.

Meanwhile, Premier Mark McGowan has accused the police union of backing criminals by refusing to claim court costs.

“It’s grossly, grossly irresponsible, this part of their campaign,” he said.

WA’s dire budget situation will be one of the challenges Mr Dawson says he will face in his new role.

“We operate in a situation where if it’s a recession type of era … often police work actually goes up,” he said.

Mr Dawson says his top priorities will be addressing high rates of Aboriginal incarceration, youth crime and methamphetamine use.

He will start with a “short, sharp probing review” of the force including the former commissioner’s contentious Frontline 2020 policing model.

Mr Dawson also praised his predecessor as a “great communicator” but said he won’t necessarily be “straying out of the lanes” with social commentary.

– AAP

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