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WA police union officer demand too much

AAP logoAAP 28/11/2016

WA Police Minister Liza Harvey has indicated she won't agree to the union's call for 1000 extra officers, saying she'll announce her plans to boost numbers when the election campaign is in full swing.

Meeting the demand would cost about $500 million and wasn't necessarily what was needed, Ms Harvey said at the WA Police Union conference on Monday, .

"It's about a smarter policing product, not necessarily standing up more soldiers out there," she told reporters.

Union president George Tilbury insisted WA did not have enough officers, based on the police-to-population measure accepted around the nation.

"We know we've got community support for it," he said.

"Police officers, when you put more out on the beat, are obviously going to detect more crimes."

But Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said the union's demand was based on 2005 figures and there had been a 19 per cent fall in crime since then.

He said the focus should be on the smarter use of existing resources, citing thousands of hours wasted by officers in courtrooms "doing nothing at all".

"We've got to get through this notion of saying the only solution is to employ people in blue and lots of them."

Response teams numbers in the metropolitan area did need to rise, but perhaps by 500, he said.

Opposition leader Mark McGowan said he and the community would like to see police numbers boosted but the state's finances were weak.

"It's difficult to commit to large numbers," Mr McGowan said.

He said Labor would announce affordable and achievable targets during the campaign ahead of the March poll.

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