Western Australia Police

Western Australia Police

Infobox Australian police|
name = Western Australia Police

motto = To enhance the quality of life and wellbeing of all people in Western Australia by contributing to making our State a safe and secure place.
established = 1834
commissioner = Commissioner Karl J O'Callaghan APM
ministry = Police and Emergency Services
headquarters = 2 Adelaide Terrace, East Perth, WA 6004
stations = 162
employees = 6,318
units = Crime Stoppers; Police Air Wing; Tactical Response Group
website = http://www.police.wa.gov.au
The Western Australia Police services an area of 2.5 million square kilometres, the world's largest non-federated area of jurisdiction. Its 6,318 employees include 4,993 police officers.


, used as a police radio tower in Highgate]

Early history

The genesis of the police was the appointment of a sheriff by Captain Stirling in June 1829, as part of the proclamation of the Swan River Colony. The proclamation provided for the appointment of a sheriff having under his direction a high constable, constables, bailiffs and surveyors of highways. The sheriff still exists as an officer of the Western Australian Justice Department—no longer having police or highways under his jurisdiction. The sheriff retains responsibility for enforcement of court judgments and the administration of jury service. Police continue to carry out sheriff & bailiff duties, particularly in remote country locations.

Early colonial policemen were recruited by magistrates and worked part-time. They were paid only for specific tasks, such as one shilling for serving a summons. By 1830, there were fifteen part-time constables in the state, of whom five worked in Perth.

A mounted force was established in 1834, proving unpopular with citizens on the grounds that it was not efficient and was being paid out of their taxes for duties which the military should be performing. It was involved in the "Battle of Pinjarra", in which the police superintendent was killed together with a large number of Aboriginal people. The first full-time constable for Perth was appointed in 1840.

The Legislative Council passed a police ordinance in 1849 that outlined police powers and responsibilities. An organised police force was formally established in 1853.

A second police ordinance in 1861 clarified the chain of command, the powers and responsibilities of members and the various offences they had to deal with. In 1861, the force consisted of about 75 officers and men. The extent of police jurisdiction expanded with the state. In 1892 there were about 225 police and the Police Act of 1892—still largely in force—came into force.

Convict period

After convicts started arriving in the colony in 1849, the police acquired the duties of registering and supervising the "ticket-of-leave" men. By 1870, after transportation had ceased, some 1,244 "ticket-of-leave" men had to be supervised by 146 police employees.

Applicants for police service were required to be aged under forty, literate and physically fit. Leave was difficult to obtain and officers were not to appear in public when out of uniform. Until the end of the nineteenth century, the monthly pay day was marked by a parade with band.

A criminal investigation department was set up in 1873, although two detectives had been sent out from Britain in 1854. A fingerprint bureau was set up in 1902 and the first female officer was appointed in 1921.


The Police Headquarters is located in East Perth overlooking the Causeway, near the WACA Ground. The 1960s curved building also houses the East Perth Lockup and is entered on the State Heritage Register. Recruits are trained at the Western Australian Police Academy at Joondalup. Previously the Academy was located at Maylands, in premises still used by various units including the mounted and K-9 (police dog) sections. The Perth Police Station is located at Curtin House, Beaufort Street.

All police recruits begin their service as uniformed constables and are required to serve time in a country district.

The command structure has the state divided into three regions and sub-divided into fourteen districts. The highest-ranking police officer in the Western Australia Police holds the title of Commissioner of Police. The current Commissioner is Karl O'Callaghan, appointed in June 2004, with two deputy commissioners - Murray Lampard (Operations), and Chris Dawson (Standards and Reform). Politically, the service comes within the portfolio of the Minister for Police.

A number of specialist units have been established, including the Tactical Response Group (TRG), Crime Investigation and Intelligence Services, Major Incident Group, Water Police Branch, Community Safety Branch, Traffic Enforcement Group, Regional Operations Group and Air Support Unit.


Equipment and weaponry

All officers are armed when on duty. The standard firearm is the Glock 22 .40 S&W pistol. Unlike other Australian civilian police, they also carry and regularly deploy the taser high-voltage electrical stun-gun, controversially described as a "less-than-lethal-force" option.

Because of the weight of equipment carried on officers' belts, Western Australian uniformed officers are being progressively issued with high-visibility jackets (vests) fitted with pockets to safely contain equipment including a taser, ammunition magazines for the service pistol, pepper spray, baton, handcuffs, radio and mobile phone. The Commissioner of Police has been reported as saying that his department will invest $A4 million to provide 1100 additional tasers, making a total of 1350 in use by officers.

Further specialised equipment is utilised by the TRG, as detailed in that section below.

Police Air Wing

The Western Australian Police operate an Air Support Unit of one helicopter and three fixed-wing aircraft. The helicopter is a Kawasaki BK 117 with a callsign Polair 61, based at Jandakot Airport. The fixed-wing aircraft include two Piper PA-31 Navajo twin engine planes, and a Cessna 182 single engine aircraft with the callsign Polair 62. In May 2005, the State Government announced A$10 million dollars for the purchase of two Pilatus PC-12 planes to replace the existing ageing fleet. Recently, One of these aircraft was delivered. VH-PWE as it was registered is now a part of the Western Australian Police Air Support Unit

Polair One Crash

On 8 May 1992, the Polair One helicopter crashed while attempting to land on a sports oval for a public display in Kelmscott. The helicopter, an Aerospatiale AS355F1, was destroyed after a fire started in the engine bay following ground impact. The Bureau of Air Safety Investigation report determined "The helicopter probably entered a vortex ring state during the final approach." [ [http://www.atsb.gov.au/publications/investigation_reports/1992/AAIR/pdf/aair199203840_001.pdf Accident Investigation Report: B/921/1036] . Department of Transport and Communications - Bureau of Air Safety Investigation.]

Newman Plane Crash

On the 26 January 2001, four police officers lost their lives when their Cessna 310R plane crashed at night near the mining town of Newman. The plane was returning from Kiwirrkurra, on the edge of the Gibson Desert, when the aircraft's engines failed due to fuel starvation on the approach to Newman airstrip. The crash was the single biggest loss of police lives in West Australian history, and the first involving a police aircraft. [ [http://www.ema.gov.au/ema/emadisasters.nsf/0/ff2b116359487164ca256d330005aea8?OpenDocument Newman, WA: Police Aircraft Crash] . "Australian Government - Attorney General's Department". September 13, 2006.] [ [http://www.atsb.gov.au/newsroom/2002/speech/speech002.aspx ATSB releases report on fatal aircraft crash near Newman, WA] . "Australian Government - Australian Transport Safety Bureau". October 23, 2002.] The officers killed in the crash were: Senior Constable Donald Richard Everett 4600 - 49 years - Pilot of Karratha Police Airwing; Senior Constable Phillip Gavin Ruland 7877 - 32 years - Newman Police Station; First Class Constable David Adrian Dewar 9178 - 31 years - Newman Police Station; Constable Gavin Ashley Capes 10305 - 27 years - Newman Police Station

Tactical Response Group

The Tactical Response Group (TRG) is a Police Tactical Group, a component of the Counter-Terrorism and State Protection Group (CT&SP TRG). It is a civilian body accountable under the state's police legislation (1892) [ [http://www.slp.wa.gov.au/statutes/swans.nsf/PDFbyName/DF1D05BF16460A87482565DC00083C63?openDocument Police Act (1892)] ] and criminal code [ [http://www.slp.wa.gov.au/statutes/swans.nsf/PDFbyName/33020351352A05ED4825673600082D53?openDocument W.A. Criminal Code] ] .

Since 1978, the Australian Government's National Anti-Terrorism Plan [ [http://www.nationalsecurity.gov.au/agd/WWW/rwpattach.nsf/VAP/(5738DF09EBC4B7EAE52BF217B46ED3DA)~NCTP_Sept_2005.pdf/$file/NCTP_Sept_2005.pdf Australia's National Anti-Terrorism Plan] ] has required each state police force to maintain a specialised counter-terrorist and hostage-rescue unit.

TRG officers are trained for high-risk physical situations. They provide support to WAPOL and other agencies [ [http://www.stepforward.wa.gov.au/trg.php W.A. Police recruitment information site] ] . Such situations include dealing with armed offenders, attending sieges and civil-disorder incidents, protecting endangered witnesses, undertaking searches of premises, securing and escorting dangerous prisoners, heads of state, VIPs and internationally protected persons, as well as the state's counter-terrorist responsibility. Specialist positions include marksmen, bomb technicians and negotiators [ [http://www.stepforward.wa.gov.au/trg.php ibid.] ] .

The TRG is equipped with a wide range of less-lethal devices as well as specialist firearms and equipment for 'domestic' and counter-terrorist operations. Training includes tactical roping, fieldcraft, paramedical courses, the use of chemical, biological and radiological equipment, self-contained breathing apparatus and weapons.


Internal misconduct

The service has come under intense scrutiny in recent years, due to alleged misconduct of police officers. Reported incidents range from pranks amongst junior officers, [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3309963.stm Police pull KKK speed stunt] ". "BBC News". December 11, 2003. Retrieved on January 13, 2007.] brutality and assault of prisoners in custody [O'Donnell, M, " [http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2003/s882086.htm Claim WA police had 'culture of violence'] ". "". June 17, 2003. Retrieved on January 13, 2007.] , unauthorised disclosure of sensitive information from police computer data records, fabrication of evidence (such as in the case of the Perth Mint Swindle), through to corruption [Australian Associated Press, " [http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/10/03/1033538678821.html Mint swindle officer seized] ". "The Sydney Morning Herald". October 3, 2002. Retrieved on January 13, 2007.] and links of senior police to organised crime.

External appointments

Between 1994 and 2005, successive Coalition governments head-hunted police commissioners from outside WA police ranks. In 1994, Victorian Bob Falconer APM was imported from the Victoria Police where he had been a deputy commissioner. Falconer was understandably not universally popular but was effective in implementing the Delta Program designed to achieve organisational and cultural change. [ [http://www.ombudsman.wa.gov.au/documents/annualreports/1999.pdf WA Ombudsman's Report, 1999—Chapter 3] ] Falconer later argued that internal measures were inadequate and that a standing crime and corruption commission was necessary to combat police corruption. [ [http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22571953-2702,00.html "Cop watchdog's leash too tight"—The Australian, 12 October 2007] ] In 1999 Barry Matthews, then a deputy commissioner of the New Zealand Police, was appointed and served until 2004. [ [http://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/CourtCoalitionGovernmentSearch.aspx?ItemId=114126&minister=Prince&admin=Court&page=2 Government media release] ] Matthews was, however, succeeded in June 2004 by Dr Karl O'Callaghan APM, PhD who had been employed in the WA service since age 17 and was one of the service's first officers to achieve a PhD. [ [http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2004/s1132535.htm ABC Radio PM report, 15 June 2004] ]

2002 Royal commission

Throughout the 1990s there was widespread public concern about police activities and perceived shortcomings in internal integrity, resulting in development by the Labor parliamentary opposition of draft terms of reference for a proposed royal commission. [ [http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/hansard/hans35.nsf/(ATT)/3F8A7912A242EE90482569BC003C51E7/$file/A35+S4+20001011+p1926b-1927a.pdf Hansard record, 11 October 2000] ] Labor won the 2001 election and, in 2002, the Kennedy Royal commission commenced to examine aspects of the behaviour and culture of the service. In 2004, the commission concluded that:

"... the full range of corrupt or criminal conduct from stealing to assaults, perjury, drug dealing and the improper disclosure of confidential information have been examined. [The Western Australian Police force] has been ineffective in monitoring those events and modifying its procedures to deal with that conduct and to prevent its repetition."..."The fact that there remain in WAPS a number of officers who participated in this conduct, and who not only refused to admit it, but also uniformly denied it with vehemence, is a matter of concern."

Death in custody

The royal commission characterised the force as "the worst in the nation" after examining the lack of transparency and "cover-up" culture which gave rise to notorious long-running controversies including suppression of the facts about the 1988 death in custody of an 18-year-old, Stephen Wardle [ [http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2004/s1057680.htm ABC AM report, 3 March 2004] ] . The commission's report noted:

"A significant deficiency in relation to the Coronial Inquiry was that the 17 officers declined, on legal advice, to answer any questions on the ground that their answers could incriminate them. The officers prepared written statements, which were tendered in evidence, but no attempt was made to examine those officers. This deficiency has, over the years, becomesomewhat notorious. It has fostered an understandable perception that the officers were seeking to conceal criminal conduct on the part of themselves and their colleagues." [ [http://www.ccc.wa.gov.au/pdfs/Volume%20I%20Final%20Report%20-%20Part%202.pdf Kennedy Royal Commission report, Chapter 12] page 333 ]

Deliberate wrongful conviction

On May 12, 2006, five police officers were stood down in relation to their original investigation which led to the wrongful conviction of Andrew Mallard. [ [http://www.abc.net.au/stateline/wa/content/2006/s1638820.htm ABC Stateline interview of Deputy Commissioner Chris Dawson] ] It was later revealed that they had deliberately withheld evidence from the courts which would have weakened the case against the defendant. Despite this, no charges were laid against any of the officers. The Corruption and Crime Commission is presently investigating whether there was misconduct by police or the prosecution in the case. In December 2007, pending the CCC's findings to be reported in 2008, the five officers were assigned to "non-police" duties. [ [http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,21598,22923952-2761,00.html Mallard five on 'disaster planning duties'] News.com press report] In contrast to this lenient treatment, ordinary citizens charged with obstructing the course of justice are typically sentenced to years of imprisonment over relatively inconsequential offences.

Image gallery

ee also

*Constable Care
*Crime in Perth
*Western Australia Police Pipe Band




*"Western Australian Year Book" 1974.
*"Lieutenant-Governor Stirling's Proclamation of the Colony, 18 June 1829 (UK)"
*"Western Australia Police Service" 2003
* [http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/Parliament%5Ccommit.nsf/(Report+Lookup+by+Com+ID)/CC85C5333638220148256674000551B4/$file/po007.pdf WA Parliamentary Select Committee on the Western Australian Police Service] Interim Report, June 1996

External links

* [http://www.police.wa.gov.au/ Western Australia Police website]
* [http://www.wa.crimestoppers.com.au/ Crime Stoppers WA]

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