We have had a change in government in WA and are about to have a new Commissioner for Police so this is a great opportunity for new directions. It is to be hoped that the new Commissioner will be one who can lift the bar for Police Officers to become professional people working towards long term benefits of individuals and society. It may seem “tough” to use more force than is necessary to apprehend or subdue an individual, but it only serves to intensify the mental health problems of that person, and so make the community less safe. It is to be hoped also that he or she is loyal to this professional staff so as to keep the best people in the job.
Similarly it is desirable to promote the professional development of prison officers, so that they too understand the difference between the short and long term outcomes for society in the way they conduct themselves. The burgeoning prison population is testimony to the ‘penny wise and pound foolish’ consequence of present practice.
Substance abuse leading to homelessness and unacceptable behaviour seems to be a worsening problem on the streets of Perth and Fremantle. We need a Commissioner and Minister who will be sufficiently brave to take a new direction; Perhaps a registry of habitual offenders who could be involuntarily committed to a secure drying out facility. The mentally ill are saved from their dangerous behaviour by involuntary committal to an institution. Habitual substance abusers who are deemed out of control by people who know and love them, or the police, should be entitled to the same life-line for their own good and the safety of the community.
Any thinking, feeling person only has to walk down Perth and Fremantle streets to see people there who are in dire need institutional care, and feel the pangs of guilt over this collective neglect. It is not only false economy and inappropriate to use prisons for the purpose but it makes them less effective than they could be in protecting society from impending terrorists and killers.
– J. Doreen Moulds, CLA member, Coogee WA