Real role of police stressed

Pierra Willix and Kate FieldingBusselton Dunsborough Times
WAPU president George Tilbury.
Camera IconWAPU president George Tilbury. Credit: The West Australian

WA’s police union has slammed a decision to pull the only two police officers from Nannup to provide security at Busselton’s courthouse in the wake of an alleged rampage in the small South West town.

WA Police Union President George Tilbury described it as an “incredible waste of resources” and said “police officers should be on the streets catching criminals and protecting the community, not babysitting people in a court-house”.

Last month, the Times reported Busselton-based officers were providing security during District Court sessions because of Busselton’s exclusion from the Department of Corrective Services Court Security and Custodial Services contract.

The contract funds security officers at District Court registries and local groups were shocked to learn it did not extend to Busselton, particularly with recent alleged attacks at Busselton Senior High School occurring during District Court sessions, when police were out of action.

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The Times queried the Department of Justice and WA Police as to why Nannup police were now being used to provide security, but did not get an explicit answer.

The department referred questions to WA Police, which said: “The roles and functions of a police officer are diverse, particularly in regional WA.”

Mr Tilbury said union members were frustrated they were being taken away from primary policing duties because of the “anomaly” in the contract.

“The WA Police Union understands that officers were recently taken from an outlying South West town in order to provide court security for two weeks, leaving the town without any local police officers,” he said.

Although officers were in town at the time, an incident happened just outside the police station in the early hours of last Wednesday morning.

Around 2am Nannup man Grant Lewis Raynel allegedly went on a rampage in the town, allegedly firing a gun outside the town’s police station and shouting threats to kill.

Police allege Mr Raynel did burnouts in the station’s carpark and also produced a knife. He will appear in court again next month.

District Court is the intermediate court, between the Magistrate’s and the Supreme courts.

The number of circuits held in Busselton is on the rise, with two, two, five, seven and six held respectively from 2013-2017. Six are scheduled for 2018, with most circuits lasting two weeks.

The contract provides court security in Kununurra, Broome, South Hedland, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Albany, Bunbury, Geraldton and Carnarvon, with all other areas expected to provide their own.

Of the 12 district court registries in WA, Busselton is by far the biggest of the four not included in the contract, which was awarded to Broadspectrum in 2016 and was formerly held by Serco.

The WAPU said it would now call for the Busselton Courthouse to be provided with court security as soon as possible.

Police Minister Michelle Roberts said last month the security arrangements had been put in place by the former Government as the “most cost-effective” way of delivering court security.

Busselton and Nannup police were unable to comment.

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