The force weakens: Police in Australia struggle to fill vacancies

Police around the nation are battling to cope with dwindling numbers as officers walk away from the force

The force weakens: Police in Australia struggle to fill vacancies
Police recruits sworn in at a recent ceremony at Queensland's Oxley Academy / Queensland Police
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Police forces across Australia are struggling to fill their ranks, with one state even resorting to recruiting teenagers to cope with declining numbers.

Police unions and officials in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales have voiced major concerns about the mistreatment of officers, staff shortages and excessive work leading to more and more walking off the job.

Last week Queensland Police announced last week its plan to drop the minimum age of new applications to just 17 as part of its largest ever recruitment campaign.

Queensland has experienced a spike in theft and violent crime with the overall crime rate increasing by five per cent in the past year with robberies up 33 per cent, assaults jumping 69 per cent, sexual crime increasing 14 per cent and break-ins surging 23 per cent.

The Daily Mail Australia reports:

Queensland also accounts for one quarter of all grand theft auto cases, making it the car theft capital of Australia.

To tackle the surging crime rate a massive recruitment drive is underway with the Queensland Police force inducting it's largest-ever number of rookies in a single swearing-in ceremony in more than a decade.

The Queensland Police Service have denied the drop in age is related to the state's recent crime wave telling Daily Mail Australia the change will 'enable more young Queenslanders to kick-start an exciting career in policing'.

But the decision caused a major backlash with many community members calling for officers with more life experience to be hired following accusations of police are mishandling domestic violence situations. 

In Western Australia, more than 300 officers departed from the WA Police force in the last financial year.

The WA Police Union hit back at claims by WA Premier Mark McGowan and police officials that officers are being 'lured' away by high-paying mining jobs isn't the case at all.

WA Police Union President Mick Kelly blasted the claims, last week saying that 'more than three-quarters of survey respondents, 77.4 per cent, said dissatisfaction with WA Police Force management and culture was a reason they resigned'.

WA Police are reportedly even floating the possibility of hiring officers from overseas to help manage staff shortages.

"Given the current circumstances, WA Police is canvassing a range of options to attract future recruits,'" a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile in South Australia, a shortage of officers coincides with an 'enormous jump' in SA crime rates, fanning fears there soon won't be enough officers to respond to incidents.

"We find it a staggering indictment on SAPOL's recruiting systems that in a state of a million and a half people, we can't get 90 people to fill the recruit courses," SA Police Association president Mark Carrol told the ABC


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  • By Avi Yemini

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