Police numbers in Western Australia will receive a significant boost this month with one of the biggest intakes of police recruits on record.
Police Minister Bob Wiese said up to 96 recruits would start their training program at the Maylands Academy in July and the extra large school was part of the program to increase the operational size of the police service by 800 additional officers.
Mr Wiese said the Government's commitment to achieve the 800 officers was on target and involved the '500 Plan' - a program to recruit 32 officers a month - and the civilianisation of 300 non-operational positions.
The additional officers were an integral part of the reform and restructure of the WA Police Service through the Delta Program which aimed to put more police on the beat to help safeguard the community.
"A net additional 299 new police officers have joined the service since January 1995 and the target increase of 500 will be met by February 1997," Mr Wiese said.
"This figure takes full account of the attrition from the service - currently an average of 21 officers a month - and if that rate changes, then extra schools or larger groups, like this one, will be put through the academy.
"These are very exciting times for these officers because they are joining an organisation currently undergoing the most extensive reform of any police service in Australia.
"Through the Delta Program, the WA Police Service is adopting refined management structures and contemporary business practices and methods to enable officers to operate more effectively and efficiently in fighting crime."
The Minister said rebuilding and re-equipping the police service to fight crime continues to be a major priority for the State Government which had increased the police budget for the 1996-97 financial year by $43.8 million to $369.74.
"This is a massive $130 million increase above the 1992-93 budget of $240 million when the Coalition Government was elected three and a half years ago," he said.
Mr Wiese said the Government recognised the difficulties and dedication of being a police officer and an allocation of $22.7 million was included in this year's budget for a 17 per cent salary package.
"Police officers work at the frontline in the community's fight against crime and they deserve all the assistance and support this Government and the people of WA can give," he said.
An allocation of $11.59 million in the police budget will complete the program to train an additional 500 new officers and the civilianisation of 300 non-operational positions.
The civilianisation program identifies opportunities for civilians to replace police officers in non-operational roles - such as clerical work - and allows these officers to return to frontline policing, back into the community, where they are most needed.
"Since the launch of the Delta Program there have been 303 positions approved for civilianisation throughout the State and to date 184 of those positions have been filled by civilian staff," Mr Wiese said.
"This is a tremendous achievement and highlights what the Delta Program is designed to accomplish - maintaining constant improvement to provide a quality police service to the people of WA."
Media contact: Mark Thompson on 222 9595