WA Liberals commit to doubling GPS trackers for serious offenders after spike in breaches

September 24, 2023 10:56 AM
Libby Mettam
WA Liberal Leader
Peter Collier
Shadow Minister for Police; Corrective Services; Culture and the Arts
Tjorn Sibma
Shadow Minister for Justice; Defence Industry; Metronet; Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs

The WA Liberal Party will double the number of GPS tracking bracelets for serious offenders who deliberately breach a violence restraining order, if elected in 2025, after a spike in breaches.

The $100 million commitment will ensure an extra 300 GPS tracking bracelets will be available to monitor offenders who commit a serious and deliberate breach of a violence restraining order.

“Under our policy, if you are a serious offender who deliberately breaches a violence restraining order and you are not sent to jail, then you will be tracked,” WA Liberal Leader Libby Mettam said.

“Breaches of violence restraining orders has increased 27 per cent from 2017 and is up 20 per cent in the last year.

“Breaches of family and domestic violence orders alone is up 22 per cent in the last year, yet time and time again we are seeing these violent offenders re-offending upon release, often with tragic outcomes.

“The WA Labor Government has completely dropped the ball on law and order and has proved itself incapable of creating any sense of urgency or producing any policy initiatives to deal with this crisis.”

Ms Mettam said the policy would particularly target serious FDV offenders and said that every one of these bracelets that is fitted and properly monitored gives one more individual or family one more layer of security.

“Rates of FDV, in particular, in WA are at record levels and are up 35 per cent on the five-year average. FDV services have called it ‘pandemic in its proportions’,” Ms Mettam said.

“We can’t continue to do the same thing and hope for a different result. We are at crisis point with an ad hoc approach from the current government and there needs to be an urgent and targeted response.”

The Liberal Party would provide for 300 GPS tracking bracelets and associated requirements for corrections staff and additional police officers at a cost of $22.5 million a year ($90 million over four years), as well as $2.5 million a year ($10 million over four years) for wrap-around services and preventative community education campaigns.

Shadow Police Minister Peter Collier said the additional devices would be a particularly powerful tool in helping police combat repeat family and domestic violence offenders.

“We are talking about some extremely violent and determined offenders and we can’t hold anything back in keeping families safe from these people,” Mr Collier said.

Shadow Justice Minister Tjorn Sibma said while the Cook Government’s refusal to give a transparent account of the operation and results of its two-year GPS trial makes evaluation impossible, such tracking has proved very effective in reducing incidents of FDV in other jurisdictions around the world and Australia.

“When GPS tracking measures are properly implemented the resulting reductions in FDV can be extraordinary,” Mr Sibma said.

“Final data for an 18-month trial commenced in Tasmania in 2018 found an overall reduction in violent incidents, particularly high-risk incidents, which were reduced by 82 per cent.

“In addition, 80 per cent of perpetrators had no reported FDV incidents following the removal of electronic monitoring.

“While this policy is proposed for introduction in 2025, the Liberal Party knows the women and children of Western Australia cannot wait and urges the Cook Labor Government to get behind it and implement it immediately.”

FDV Facts:

Family domestic violence continues to be a serious and highly complex issue impacting our community. It is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children and imposes significant cost on the community.

The ramifications for victims and survivors of family violence who are forced to leave their homes are far ranging and include risks of homelessness, loss of employment, disruption to children’s education as well as impacts to physical and mental health.

Unfortunately, the true extent of this problem is likely much higher than reported, as only a quarter of women who experience assault from a partner living together actually report the incident to the police.

Currently, Western Australia has one of the highest rates of reported family and domestic violence in Australia. Notably:

- In WA, over 60 per cent (23,254) of assaults were family and domestic violence-related;

- In 2020-21, 24,470 Western Australians sought assistance from specialist homelessness services, with 41 per cent (10,112) identified as needing these services because they were experiencing family and domestic violence;

- In 2021, there were 48 victims of homicide and related offences recorded in Western Australia. Twelve of these homicides (25 per cent) were family and domestic violence related; and

- Of the 133 family and domestic violence fatality reviews finalised by the WA Ombudsman for the period 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2021, Aboriginal Western Australians were overrepresented, with 33 per cent (44) of persons who died being Aboriginal. In 34 of these cases the person who died lived in a regional or remote area of Western Australia, of which 26 were intimate partner fatalities.

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