Sunday, November 28, 2010

Honest cop on the outer in Victoria

To be expected in what is probably the crookedest force in the country

A "COLD war" has broken out between Victoria Police's two most senior officers. Chief Commissioner Simon Overland and Deputy Commissioner Sir Ken Jones are said to be barely speaking following a clash of personalities.

In an official statement, a Victoria Police spokeswoman described their relationship as "robust". "Deputy Commissioner Sir Ken Jones and Chief Commissioner Simon Overland have a robust relationship," the spokeswoman said. "At times they do disagree on things, however both work effectively and professionally together."

The statement was released after a senior Victoria Police source revealed the rift to the Sunday Herald Sun. "They basically don't talk any more. "Ken's had a word with Simon about a few issues and Simon's basically cut him off as a result," the source, who is close to both men, said.

The collapse in relations between the state's two most senior lawmen follows a series of disagreements between the two over the direction of the force.

Insiders say Sir Ken - who was widely regarded as the natural successor for the chief commissioner's role - is unhappy enough to leave and continue his career outside Victoria. They said he remained in the role in case the Liberal Party, which despite public utterances is unlikely to support Mr Overland, takes power after yesterday's close election. A Brumby Government victory may mean Sir Ken could move to another job within months, the sources said.

Sir Ken is believed to have been disappointed he has had to share the "acting Chief Commissioner" role when Mr Overland is away with fellow Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe.

He has differed with Mr Overland on a number of issues, including the influence Spring St has on the force. "The minute policing becomes political, the public loses confidence in it," he said. The Welsh-born policeman is also regarded as being in greater favour of transparency and an independent force executive in which sworn officers, not public servants, are in the majority.

He also broke ranks on proposed changed arrest rules which Mr Overland said would not change the position at law. But Sir Ken was concerned the new policy "unwittingly constrains the power of arrest".

"They have had a difference of opinion on a number of issues," a source said. "And Simon has decided the best way to deal with (Sir Ken) is to isolate him."

Sir Ken was knighted in the UK in 2008 for his services to police. He also served for several years in Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption before starting with Victoria Police in July 2009.


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