Commissioner wants more police on streets, not at desks

THERE’S no need for politicians to promise more police when there are about 600 sworn officers behind desks that could be out on the streets, says Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan.

Mr O’Callaghan said at a briefing at The Rise in Maylands last week that the service needed more flexibility in employing unsworn officers or public servants to take on administration duties to allow more officers back on the beat.

“We don’t need people to promise us a defined number of police officers, which has no basis in fact or science,” he said.

“The best way of managing the police force is for the police to be given an increase amount in salary so we can make choices about what type of people we employ.

“We have got something like 600 police officers currently in the WA police who are not on the road and are behind desks.

“Many of those could be put back out on the street without employing a single extra police officer if we had the flexibility to have more public servants or experts or police auxiliary officers rather than always having to employ full sworn officers.”

He said the problem was a more complicated than saying ‘we’ll get more police officers on the streets and more police stations and the problem will be solved.’

Police Minister Liza Harvey said the Government and police force were working together to get management of the organisation right.

“We are trying to get the mix right in the agency to ensure that our blue shirts are actually out there on the front line and we’ve got the right mix of support services is the next tranche of work that we’re doing to make sure that Government can resource police appropriately to continue the momentum,” she said.

“Around an election campaign, everyone knows what that’s like, generally you’ll have the union and opposition and Government, we’ve been guilty of it as well, always calling for more police officers.

“Generally support staff are much cheaper employees than police officers because police officers need to continue with their training, they have to have their accoutrements training, they have got to keep up to date with things, they have a range of benefits awarded to them that make them a somewhat expensive employee.

“And we do all of that because of the job that they do but if we can get other people doing the work behind the scenes at a lower cost, well that’s a conversation every treasurer likes to have.”