Police officer fatigue a concern, says union

POLICE officers across the metro area are struggling with fatigue, according to the WA Police Union (WAPU).

WA Police recently released findings from an internal review of the Frontline 2020 Metropolitan Operating Model, which began in December 2014.

In a win for the model, public satisfaction and confidence, the number of vehicles available for frontline tasks, prosecutions and engagement with the community had increased.

Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan said the model had provided a solid platform to go on with, but conceded there was plenty of work to do.

The review found there was a need for more stability within key positions and better flexibility with rosters.

Detective vacancies means some district investigation teams are unable to work as efficiently as they should.

Fatigue issues were also reported by officers, particularly those from Response Teams.

Rosters were found to be EBA compliant and there were no substantiated fatigue-related OSH incidents, according to WA Police, but they have promised to explore further.

WAPU president George Tilbury said there was no doubt officer burn-out was a real issue.

He said a survey of more than 1100 members had found officers were burdened by travel, rarely took entitled meal breaks, and were struggling under an increased workload brought on by vacancies.

“Respondents revealed numerous frightening incidents travelling to and from work due to fatigue such as falling asleep at the wheel, driving off the road or onto the other side of the road, completely losing concentration while driving, running red lights or stop signs, hitting stationary objects along the road or kerb and being involved in traffic crashes,” he said.

“The report also found that almost 82 per cent of respondents expressed early morning finishes on evening shifts created significant fatigue-related issues when commuting home.”

Following the survey the WAPU made four recommendations to WA Police.

Among them was introducing 10-hour shifts for officers.