Police Minister Bob Wiese said the Opposition's promise of only recruiting 280 police officers over four years would hardly cover the yearly attrition rate from the Western Australian Police Service.
Mr Wiese said that under the Coalition Government, WA had the best ratio of police officers per head of population of all the Australian States.
He said the current ratio in WA of 1:385 or one officer for every 385 people was a major achievement when compared with a national average of 1:412, or one officer for every 412 people.
"This ratio has improved by four per cent over the last four years and indicates the increase in numbers of sworn officers has been greater than the rate of population growth," the Minister said.
"This Government plans to maintain that ratio as one of the highest throughout Australia through its next term of government."
Mr Wiese said the program for the operational deployment of an additional 800 police officers to help safeguard the community was on target.
The Coalition Government had committed more than $72 million to meet the 800 officers involved in `the 500 Plan' - a program to recruit and train a minimum of 32 officers a month - and the civilianisation of 300 non-operational positions.
"A net additional 425 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 attrition from the service - currently a projected average of 21 officers a month - which is approximately 252 a year."
"The Opposition's claims of recruiting 280 officers during a four-year term of government would hardly even cover that yearly attrition rate."
The Minister said Opposition claims that the Government was decreasing the police budget over the next four years was a total distortion of the forward estimates figures.
"What Dr Gallop is not telling the community is that this year's budget also included $20 million set aside for the guns buy-back scheme," he said.
"If this is another example of how the Labor Party chooses to interpret budget figures, then this State will once again be in financial dire straits if they are re-elected."
Media contact: Mark Thompson 322 2311 or 222 9595