Policing structure debated after wild weekend of Mandurah crime

Debate: Opposition leader Liza Harvey and Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup in Mandurah on Sunday (left). Police commissioner Chris Dawson with police minister Michelle Roberts (right). Photos: Supplied.
Debate: Opposition leader Liza Harvey and Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup in Mandurah on Sunday (left). Police commissioner Chris Dawson with police minister Michelle Roberts (right). Photos: Supplied.

After a weekend where Mandurah police were forced to deal with high-profile criminal incidents, the metropolitan policing structure has been questioned.

The policing structure was changed last year to expand the number of districts from four to eight, with the goal of localising officer responses.

Newly appointed Opposition leader Liza Harvey, who was a police minister in the previous state government and visited Mandurah on Sunday, said a recent spike in crime had put pressure on the district.

"I know the Mandurah station often has quite a high demand on its resources," she said.

"We put in additional officers and made improvements to the Mandurah police station. I'm concerned that there seems to be some increases in crime in the Mandurah catchment.

"The restructure was supposed to solve staffing problems and I don't believe it has. I think it has caused officers to be more thin on the ground. We will keep the pressure on the government to be honest about the staffing of police in Mandurah."

Current police minister Michelle Roberts disputed Ms Harvey's claims and said the restructure had been a success so far.

"Liza Harvey presided over one of the biggest increases in crime this state has seen - since the McGowan Government took office, crime has fallen in the Mandurah district," she said.

"If you compare the last two years when Liza Harvey was minister for police to two years under our government, all crimes against property and the person have decreased by 13 per cent.

"Not only has Liza Harvey got her facts wrong, but her comments smack of hypocrisy. Under her watch traffic enforcement officers were transferred out of Mandurah.

"Police response teams based in Mandurah were forced to respond to jobs as far away as Fremantle, stretched thinly across a mega district and became fatigued as a result."

Mandurah MP David Templeman said he wanted to go out on patrol with local officers to get a feel for what they were experiencing.

"I was an advocate for the restructure and I think it is bearing some benefits locally," he said.

"But, there is no doubt that our police resources will always be tested. When they have been tested in recent times in respect to serious matters, officer responses were swift and outstanding.

"Certainly if there was (the possibility of) more resources, including police numbers, then I'd be advocating for that, absolutely."

WA police union president Harry Arnott said officers cared about their local communities.

"These types of incidents continue to highlight the dangerous and unpredictable nature of policing. Police men and women continue to put themselves on the line to make WA a safer place," he said.