Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Death of Cameron Anthony FYFE

Inquest into the Death of Cameron Anthony FYFE

Delivered on : 28 May 2024

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : State Coroner Fogliani

Recommendations : Yes

Recommendation No. 1

That the Western Australia Police Force take all reasonable steps to ensure a comprehensive mental health risk assessment is prepared in relation to every individual police officer who is to join the Traffic Motorcycle Group and who is to be authorised to store their police issued firearm at their home address, before they are authorised to do so, with a further comprehensive mental health risk assessment taking place every year it is proposed the authorisation to store their police issued firearm at their home address will be renewed. 

In the case of police officers who are already in the Traffic Motorcycle Group and who have already been authorised to store their police issued firearm at their home, they should be strongly encouraged to participate in the above comprehensive mental health risk assessments.

Recommendation No. 2

That the Western Australia Police Force consider the development of a comprehensive and ongoing strategy to reduce stigma within the Western Australia Police Force in relation to conversations regarding mental health and help seeking.

Recommendation No. 3

That the Western Australia Police Force explore further options for proactively checking in with police officers in connection with their mental health and wellbeing at various stages of their employment with the Western Australia Police Force, and that resources be allocated for this to occur.  This checking in should be done in a way that allows for choice and autonomy.

Recommendation No. 4

That the Western Australia Police Force consider ways of disseminating further information emphasising how confidentiality provisions apply when police officers access their mental health resources, including information regarding the steps that may be taken should a mental health practitioner form a concern for a police officer’s wellbeing.

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : Non-Publication Order in respect of any reference to the Covert Unit, any person working in the Covert Unit and any procedures or practices of the Covert Unit.

Summary : Cameron Anthony Fyfe was a Senior Constable of the Western Australia Police Force (WAPOL) when he died on Saturday 20 June 2021 at his home address as a result of gunshot injury to the head.  His death occurred by way of suicide.  He used his police issued firearm to inflict the gunshot injury that ended his life.  He was 27 years old.  At the request of his family, he is referred to as Cameron in the inquest finding.

Cameron had struggled with his mental health over a number of years, with fluctuations in his mood and instances of suicidal ideation.  He was well supported by his family and friends but found it difficult to talk about his feelings.  Cameron was reluctant to seek help from the psychological and/or counselling supports offered by WAPOL, due to his perception that his supervisors would be informed, and that it would adversely impact on his policing career, and his financial position.  Eventually after considerable prompting from concerned family and friends, Cameron consulted a GP and later a private psychologist.  He was diagnosed with a number of conditions, including anxiety and depression.  However, shortly before his death, Cameron ceased seeing his private psychologist and appears to have ceased taking his prescribed medications.

At the inquest the State Coroner explored the reasons as to why Cameron had been permitted to store his police issued firearm at his home.  Upon successfully joining the Traffic Motorcycle Group, Cameron applied for and received approval, to commute to and from work on his marked police motorcycle.  This required him to carry at least three force options, including his police issued firearm, in case attendance was required at an incident, during the commute.  Procedures governed the storage of the firearm at the home, in an approved gun storage cabinet. 

The State Coroner was satisfied that, save for some technical non-compliance in the approval process, WAPOL’s authorisation for Cameron to store his police issued firearm at his home was consistent with their prevailing policies.   However, the State Coroner determined that there was room for improvement in those policies, and made a recommendation directed towards the implementation by WAPOL of a comprehensive mental health risk assessment in relation to individual police officers who are authorised to store their police issued firearm at the home.

At the inquest the State Coroner heard evidence about the steps WAPOL have taken to encourage cultural change, by reducing the stigma attached to the seeking of mental health support and fostering a culture of open discussion about mental health.  The State Coroner made a number of recommendations directed towards maintaining the momentum on this cultural change, and the funding of further options for proactively checking in with police officers in connection with their mental health and wellbeing at various stages of their employment with WAPOL.

The State Coroner addressed the importance of WAPOL disseminating further information emphasising how confidentiality provisions apply when police officers access their mental health resources, and when it may be considered that a police officer is at “imminent risk” following a mental health assessment.  The State Coroner also noted the importance of understanding that it is not the goal of WAPOL’s Psychology Unit to make police officers non-operational, and that some changes to work environments, as a result of a mental health risk assessment, may be temporary while the police officer undergoes support to return to their usual role.

Catch Words : Suicide : Police Traffic Motorcycle Group: Commuting on police motorcycle: Mental Health Risk Assessment: Police issued firearms and ammunition: Western Australia Police Force:


Last updated: 7-Jun-2024

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