WA Police job losses could harm state's most vulnerable youths, Commissioner says
Written by Frances Bell for ABC News
There are concerns the state's most vulnerable youth could be among the hardest hit if there are "hundreds" of job losses at WA Police.
The outgoing Police Commissioner, Karl O'Callaghan, has told the ABC that police jobs will need to be slashed in response to deep cuts expected in next month's state budget.
Dr O'Callaghan is retiring from the force next week after 13 years in the top job, and says it will be up to his successor Chris Dawson to determine where the cuts will be made.
However, he says youth intervention officers and support for Police and Community Youth Centres (PCYCs) could be among the first areas to be targeted.
"This agency has been through significant reform already and has picked a lot of the low-hanging fruit, so anything from here on in will have an impact on service delivery," he said.
PCYCs are supported by a range of income sources, including sponsors and fundraising.
But PCYC Federation of WA chief executive Jock Gillespie said they also rely on hundreds of thousands of dollars in police funding each year to pay for staff salaries.
"What we're about really is providing those programs that target real vulnerable youth, in particular at-risk youth," Mr Gillespie said.
"We're trying to provide education and employment pathways to young people … the people that no-one else wants to deal with."
Zaine Dalgleish, 16, is enrolled in an education program for at-risk youth at the Midland PCYC.
"If I wasn't here I'd probably be at home laying in bed or playing on my games and not really doing much," he said.
His classmate, 17-year-old Resharne Winder, said he also would not be doing much if he was not enrolled in the program.
"Probably nothing besides sitting at home, probably get up to something no good," he said.
He said he hoped the course would help prepare him for a career as a mechanic.
"Get my certificate, chuck that on my resume, hopefully go for an apprenticeship after that," he said.
Dr O'Callaghan said about a quarter of the 8,000 staff working for WA Police are public servants, but warned any job cuts would result in a reduction in policing services.
Toni Walkington, branch secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union, said public servants were often seen as an "easy target" when it came to job losses.
She said any reduction in public servant roles within WA Police would be "unfair and misguided".
"Police officers will have to undertake more administrative tasks, and be less doing what they're actually paid to do. It just doesn't make sense," she said.
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