Regional WA police numbers at critical levels: Peter Katsambanis

The Liberal Opposition has raised concerns over the number of police officers stationed in regional centres across Western Australia.

According to new figures obtained by the Opposition, regional WA has 1,453 officers. The authorised total is 1,539.

The South West has 257 officers, 12 fewer than the authorised number for the region (269).

The figures were provided in response to parliamentary questions from Shadow Police Minister Peter Katsambanis.

"It should be no surprise to this government, after they reneged on their promise of a pay rise for police officers and then increased the rent for Government Regional Officers' Housing, that officers don't want to go to work in regional districts," Mr Katsambanis said.

"What incentive is there for a police officer to move their family to regional WA when they will be out of pocket when they arrive?

"It would be a travesty if these dedicated, hard-working officers were put in a situation where, despite their best efforts, they didn't have the resources they needed and a tragedy resulted."

WA Police Union President, and Southern Region Director, Harry Arnott said the numbers would either decrease or remain the same unless changes were made to the Government Regional Officers' Housing program.

Following an increase in 2017, officers were forced to pay another $1,560 per year in Government Regional Officers' Housing rent from July 1, 2018.

"We have received feedback from members in regional areas who are concerned that the rent increases will create further vacancies throughout rural WA," Mr Arnott said.

"We have been meeting with all state members of parliament and we have explained this very clearly and very simply.

"We have costed the State Government covering the rent increase for police officers at approximately $1.2 million."

Police Minister Michelle Roberts said vacancies in regional WA were 40 per cent higher back in September 2016, under the Barnett Government.

"Under our government, the number of officers in regional WA has increased by 126," she said.

"As with any organisation, there will be vacancies from time to time. However, the Commissioner of Police [Chris Dawson] tells me the current vacancy rate is at normal levels.

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