The Police Department records held by the State Records Office cover a lot of territory, both in geography and in subject matter. As well as investigating and reporting on criminal activities, the records can also document more unusual matters. This week Damien Hassan, Senior Archivist at the State Records Office, talks about the Police Department’s “UFO File” held in the State archives collection.
The file includes reports of UFO sightings from government officials and members of the public dating back to 1951, predating the era of satellite technology (the Russian Sputnik satellite was not launched until 1957).
The file includes many reports of UFO sightings throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, typically from country areas. The reports appear genuine and the police officer passing on each report would also qualify his written remarks with statements such as the person making the report was “reliable” and a “teetotaller”. Some who reported the phenomenon stated they were previously sceptical about UFOs but were subsequently convinced they were real. The police file notes that some making statements said they were genuinely frightened by what they had witnessed.
Those reporting UFO sightings would describe what they saw in detail. The UFOs described were often metallic and round or cylindrical. Many reported that the UFOs emanated bright lights, that could illuminate the surrounding area with a pale green light. Most reported the objects they had seen as being completely silent, and able to change trajectory in the sky at astonishing speed.
Many of the reports are not easily explained away and the official correspondence on the Police file does not - in the most part - attempt to, with some mystery still around what was seen.
The official Police records held by the State Records Office of WA are a critical resource for understanding our State history. The WA Police Force officially commenced in 1853 with records since that time in archival custody. In total, the State Records Office holds over 15,000 files from the Police Force, as well as many other sets of Occurrence and Reports Books from regional stations.
Recorded live on ABC Radio Perth on 28 July 2020.