Police hit by lack of stationery

NIALL BOYLESound Telegraph
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Rockingham police station has sent out an SOS to surrounding stations in a desperate plea for stationery, in the wake of State Government expenditure freezes.

The station had just one notepad and three days worth of A4 photocopying paper, with other supplies down to dangerously low levels last Tuesday morning (June 11), as officers sought to ration stationery before the start of the new financial year.

An email sent by Rockingham Senior Sergeant Stuart Mearns last Tuesday morning, which has been obtained by the Telegraph, requests officers-in-charge of surrounding stations to spare anything they could.

Treasurer Troy Buswell announced the belt-tightening initiatives on May 14 in an urgent bid to reduce expenditure until the new financial year and find $92 million savings while ensuring frontline services to the public would not be affected.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said he was “absolutely gobsmacked” by the news.

“It’s a sad day when our police force is reduced to begging in order to do their jobs,” he said.

“The fact that police stations are now unable to even undertake that role reflects incredibly poorly on the Barnett Government’s priorities.

“The police taking evidence and photocopying documents is a frontline service, it is not some frivolous activity.”

Police Union president George Tilbury called the lack of supplies an “absolute embarrassment” for the State Government.

“It shows that the Barnett Government cannot appropriately fund its police service and, as a result, is letting officers down,” he said.

“Police officers should not have to be scraping around to borrow spare reams of paper or paper clips.

“They should be out on the frontline catching thugs and locking up offenders.

“Policing is not a business, it is a 24/7 emergency service that needs to be funded appropriately.”

Police Minister Liza Harvey said there was no “blanket ban on purchasing new stationery”.

“There is only a temporary freeze on non-essential purchasing of consumables such as stationery,” she said.

“Where it is determined items like stationery are essential to the operation of a police station, this would be authorised.

“This is not a “cut” to the police budget — it is a saving going forward.

“WA Police are well-funded to operate at an effective level within the community. I have consistently said that government efficiency measures will not affect frontline services and that is still the case.”

A spokeswoman for Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan said senior police figures advised officers to apply strong governance across all expenditure “Within districts, it would be perfectly reasonable for police stations low on certain items to try and source them from other stations with a surplus of the same item,” she said.

“To be clear, there is no instruction to prohibit the purchase of items essential to the operational needs of a police station.”

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