In Australia, a crisis in law enforcement is developing as police departments struggle to find new recruits amid allegations that officers are being treated “worse than suspects”.
Police unions and authorities in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia have complained of mistreatment, understaffing and labor expenses high as an “exodus” of cops quit their jobs.
The problem is so acute that Queensland Police announced last week that the state’s biggest-ever recruitment campaign to stop rising crime rates will lower the minimum age for applicants to just 17.
Sunshine State’s law enforcement capabilities have reached a breaking point due to a recent increase in theft and violent crime.
The overall crime rate in Queensland has increased by 5% over the past year, with thefts up by 33%, assaults by 69%, sex crimes by 14% and burglaries by 23%.
Additionally, 25% of all serious car theft cases originate in Queensland, making it the epicenter of car theft in Australia.
While Queensland Police have inducted the most recruits at a single swearing-in ceremony in more than a decade, a major recruitment drive to tackle rising crime rates is currently underway.
The Queensland Police Service said the change ‘will enable young Queenslanders to kick-start an exciting career in policing’ and denied the drop in age was linked to the state’s recent crime spree.
However, the move sparked a major backlash, with many in the community demanding the hiring of officers with more life experience in response to allegations that police are handling domestic violence cases improperly.
One individual said on Twitter that the only thing scarier than a Queensland cop was a 17-year-old Queensland cop.
Another person remarked, “Not old enough to vote or buy a beer, but it’s okay to be a cop.”
“Police is a profession for mature and sane individuals.” Not someone whose brain is still developing, says another.
Applicants must still pass the Grade 12 certificate, pass the necessary cognitive, physical, and psychological examinations, and meet security, integrity, medical, and interview screening (or equivalent) standards.
By 2025, the state hopes to hire 1,450 additional police officers and 575 new employees through a new recruiting campaign.
Male officers have been accused of rampant misogynistic behaviour, sexist remarks and sexual harassment in a communication made earlier this year in response to a state review of Queensland police culture.
According to allegations reported in The Guardian, male officers referred to the area where female detectives were working as a “c*** corner”, one male officer described an investigator as “a good operator until her ass is getting fat,” and a third officer asked if the alleged rape actually happened or if the woman was just trying to get a free Pap test.
Kevin Morton, president of the NSW Police Association of NSW, criticized the state’s hiring process for charging prospective officers around $17,000 for their training program, calling it a significant deterrent that keeps applicants away.
At a press conference in May, Mr Morton said: ‘We are losing potential quality police officers in this state because individuals simply cannot afford the application process.’
Only in New South Wales do police cadets have to invest thousands of dollars and months of their lives to join the force.
Before submitting an application to join the force, applicants must complete a college certificate program in workforce basics.
After being selected, successful applicants must pay for a nearly nine-month training program at Goulburn Police Academy, where they are required to remain confined and separated from their families.
According to Mr. Morton, “They don’t even get paid for it; in fact, they are paying out of their savings to do so.
Due to a shortage of applicants and scheduling issues, NSW Police have been forced to postpone their planned June training session.
On the other side of the country, the WA Police Department lost more than 300 officers in the last fiscal year, including 60 in June.
According to the WA Police Union, it is inaccurate to say that police and Premier Mark McGowan have said officers are “pulled” into lucrative mining jobs.
According to WA Police Union President Mick Kelly last Friday, “more than three-quarters of survey respondents, or 77.4 per cent, said dissatisfaction with the administration and of WA Police culture was a reason they quit”.
Only one of them mentioned leaving a police station in favor of a FIFO job at a mining site, while many described how working for the agency ruined their mental health, destroyed their personal relationships and destroyed their ability to manage work and life.
Western Australia Police’s poor human resources practices, not lucrative resource jobs, are to blame for the agency’s rapidly rising officer attrition rate.
The top five reasons officers left the force, excluding new job offers, were dissatisfaction with management and culture, long hours and/or a heavy load work, lack of prospects for career advancement or promotion, family obligations and poor pay and working conditions. .
Five distraught former police officers said they worked without “help” at their workplace.
“WA Police Management don’t care about their staff.” Experience, especially on the front line, is not valued at all, according to a former officer.
The Minister’s comments on the issue of culture show how disconnected the hierarchy is. It saddens me to know how many experienced officers quit because they are so frustrated with the mistreatment.
“I participated in an internal interview where I received worse treatment than we are supposed to give suspects,” I said. The whole system is faulty.
After five years working in a regional WA which was severely understaffed, another former officer claimed the situation had become “dangerous”.
We were expected to do more with less work, and interns were sent to augment our staff. Sometimes it was really risky, the officer said.
“For me, the benefits were insufficient to justify continuing to jeopardize my own safety.” I dreaded going to work for the past two years because of the negative culture.
A third person said: “The work itself is difficult. It’s a lose-lose situation when office politics gets involved. A third person added: ‘Fighting with people on the street and then going in and fighting with office politics.’
On Friday, Mr Kelly spoke about the results of the investigation at a press conference.
My sanity and family ties are disintegrating, our people have had enough,” he said.
They visit crime scenes, which are pretty harrowing situations. They need help.
“May I suggest to the Prime Minister that he speak to the police on the front line when he returns from his trip abroad?”
In a bid to address manpower shortages, WA Police told Daily Mail Australia they are now considering employing police from overseas.
According to a spokeswoman, “Given current conditions, WA Police are looking at a range of options to attract future recruits.”
While no decision has yet been made on a planned expansion of the current recruiting campaign, this includes potential interstate and international recruiting activities.
State policing and recruitment methods must be overhauled, the South Australian Police Union demanded two weeks ago as officers struggled to cope with a shrinking force.
According to South Australian Police Association President Mark Carroll, “we have told Commissioner Grant Stevens that his district policing strategy has been failing for over a year now.”
It fails South Australian law enforcement, investigators and the general public.
The South African police, according to Mr Carroll, are “fighting to keep up the numbers”.
In a state of 1.5 million people, he said, “we find a surprising reflection on SAPOL’s recruiting processes that we cannot get 90 people to fill the recruit classes.”
Union representatives were due to meet on Wednesday to look in more detail at the problems currently facing the South African police.
There are fears there will soon not be enough officers available to respond to crimes due to the shortage and a ‘huge rise’ in crime rates in South Africa, with 5,100 more offenses than habit committed in April alone.