Record police funding

The WA Police budget has increased by $78.6 million this year to total $1.2 billion, in the 2012/13 state budget.  The budget provides the largest increase seen by police.

The funding will be aimed at increasing police numbers and upgrading stations.  State police numbers will be increased with 100 extra police officers, 30 auxiliary officers and 30 support staff.


Large Police presence an “over reaction”

More than 140 police officers have been sent to Broome in response to protesters of the Woodside gas hub.  The 10 day operation will cost around $1 million.  The The move by police commisioner Karl O’Callaghan has been labeled as “mistake” by labor leader Mark McGowan.

It has been reported that 30 protesters had set up camp.  They have said they want a peaceful and lawful protest, and felt intimidated with the police presence.

Officers have worn riot gear and have set up surveillance cameras.  The deployment meant police outnumbered protesters on almost a 5-1 basis.

The officers had been taken from metropolitan and regional areas.  Mr O’Callaghan’s decision to remove officers from front line forces contridicts his recent calls for increased police numbers.  The ability to move such numbers may instead suggest that a decrease in police presence is possible in some areas.

Mr O’Callaghan gave a press release outlining his reasons for deployment, saying “We just want to do our business and enable Woodside to go about their business, that’s why we’re up there.”

Labor and the Greens have described the deployment as an “over reaction” by police, using “heavy-handed tactics”.

Mr O’Callaghan has rejected this criticism.



New Police Union President

Sergeant George Tilbury has been named as the new police union president this week.  Mr Tilbury takes over from Russell Armstrong who was dumped from the position earlier this month.

Mr Tilbury has 21 years of policing, and has been on the union board for the past 6 years.  He will begin his 3 year term in June.


WA Police officer charged over pursuit death

A 27-year-old police officer has been charged and stood aside from duties after killing a woman when he ran a red light during a chase. The officer has been summonsed to appear in court on May 22 on the charge of dangerous driving.

The police officer was  with his partner chasing a stolen Audi, when he ran the red light, hitting the victims car.  The police officer had not received authorisation to pursue the stolen vehicle when he ran the red light.

The 50-year-old victim was driving with her 16-year-old daughter when they were hit.  The daughter was taken to hospital with minor injuries, as were the two officers.  A 21-year-old man was later arrested in relation to the stolen car.

Western Australian police minister Rob Johnson and Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan defended police pursuits after the crash.

Mr O’Callaghan said that an internal investigation had begun to determine if the police had correctly followed procedures.  Mr O’Callaghan made statements to the media, which may potentially bias an ongoing internal investigation, by presenting an uninformed excuse for the actions of police, “my guess is what they were trying to do was get that authorisation, but you can’t wait for someone to take off and then wait for three or four minutes for that authorisation”.

WA Police have stated that the 37 crashes over the past two years involving police vehicles engaged in emergency driving situations, was not high.  Mr O’Callaghan said that pursuits “are very well regulated”.


Criminal charges recommended against police

The Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) has released its report into the 2008 incident where Kevin Spratt was tasered multiple times in the Perth Watch House.

The report recommends the Director of Public Prosecutions lay criminal charges against two senior police officers involved, Troy Tomlin and Aaron Strahan.  Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan said the officers would remain at work, and a decision to stand them down will be made if they are charged.

It also raised concerns whether sufficient consideration was given to the use of negotiation and conflict resolution techniques.

Mr O’Callaghan previously released a timeline to the media showing Mr Spratt’s criminal history.  The timeline contained inaccuracies indicating Mr Spratt had been violent prior to the tasering.  The CCC determined that releasing this information to the media was not misconduct, accepting Mr O’Callaghan’s suggestion that he did so to preserve faith in the police services.

The CCC was critical of the WA Police Internal Affairs investigation.  The investigation  did not resolve inconsistencies between police statements and the video footage.  The report recommends they take all evidence into consideration when assessing use of force incidents.  Mr O’Callaghan said he still has faith in the Internal Affairs department.

“In my mind nothing has changed in the last eighteen months ” Mr O’Callaghan said.

WA shadow attorney-general John Quigley said that in any other government department, such serious findings of misconduct would result in the officers being stood down.

“There’s a lesser standard of accountability in the police force” he said.

CCC media release: