Friday, October 1, 2010

Top Victorian cop in bid to stop flow of information about police corruption

Victoria Police chief commissioner Simon Overland has banned police from covertly recording colleagues. Police members, well versed in the advantages of recording evidence, have a history of covertly taping workplace disputes, some of which have been made public, embarrassing the force.

Former police commissioner Christine Nixon was recorded when she told detectives she was disbanding the armed offenders squad in 2007, which was leaked to the media and later broadcast.

Only non-operational matters cannot be recorded and the ban applies to all staff working for the force.

Covertly recorded conversations have also cost the force, with one police officer exposing a senior officer racially vilifying him.

Mr Overland's instruction, effective from July 4 for 12 months, was detailed to police members in The Gazette this week, stating the practice undermined workplace relationships. Those found to have recorded conversations could face disciplinary action. An internal notification of the same instruction was circulated on the force's intranet in September last year.

The Police Association has written to members worried the move could leave them vulnerable. Secretary Greg Davies is opposing the ban. "The association does not encourage members recording other members in a covert fashion however, regrettably, on some occasions it is a necessary step in order to protect themselves," he wrote in a letter to union members.

Mr Overland's instruction is at odds with the force's increasing use of surveillance tactics. The Herald Sun exposed Victoria Police were secretly checking phone records of its reporters to save face over whistleblower leaks.


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