WA is set to lose its Rural Crime Squad within a month following an announcement by WA Police that its officers are be relocated to the Child Abuse unit.
The move comes as another blow to regional policing in WA, with the closure of several country police stations last year causing outrage in those communities.
Farm organisation groups say the disbanding of the squad could lead to a significant increase in stock theft.
Officer in charge of the squad Det-Sgt David Byrne said any investigations would be finalised within a month, but anything running longer would be diverted to regional stations to follow up.
Det Byrne said he was disappointed for regional areas, but said the Commissioner’s decision was based on operational needs.
Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Rob Gillam said the Commissioner should reconsider the decision.
“It seems that once again a vital rural resource, one with a proud record of essential service to WA’s agricultural community, is to be redeployed,” he said.
WAFarmers chief executive officer Doug Parker said he was deeply disturbed by the decision.
Mr Parker said the continued withdrawal of adequate police protection and support from rural and remote communities is unacceptable.
“The withdrawal of police resources raises enormous concerns, leaving farmers with a question of who to turn to for assistance,” he said.
“The theft of machinery, livestock, fuel and other agricultural supplies has the potential to significantly impact production and farmers’ livelihoods.”
WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan said detectives based in regional centres will take over those investigations.