Thursday, March 24, 2011

Useless South Australian cops

Police had no idea car was stolen from Adelaide's CBD despite two 000 calls

POLICE are investigating two claims that they failed to respond to 000 calls at the weekend. The allegations have prompted renewed calls for an overhaul of the SA Police communications branch.

Two men told The Advertiser that police failed to respond to separate 000 calls about a car theft in progress in the city on Saturday night. Their complaint follows SAPOL confirmation it will review allegations that police failed to attend another 000 call relating to an alleged assault later that night.

Tyson Coates, 23, said he had just finished dinner at the Coopers Ale House on Pulteney St on Saturday night when he and a friend saw his Nissan Skyline being stolen. They said they both dialled 000 as they were pursuing the car, providing the operator with exact details of its location and appearance.

The operator told Mr Coates to return to the Cooper Ale House to meet an officer and give more details. When police failed to arrive after two hours, he left and went to Sturt police station to check on the progress of the investigation the next day. "We went to the police station to make sure it had been recorded as stolen and nothing had been done," Mr Coates said.

"They hadn't even put it on the system. They weren't even aware it was stolen. "It is pretty disappointing because there were police everywhere because it was the middle of the city. "I was thinking they might have even caught them before the car left the city. "Who knows where it is now."

Mr Coates' friend has made a formal complaint to the Police Complaints Authority.

A police spokesman said a patrol was not tasked to attend the Coopers Ale House despite operator advice to the contrary. Because of this, no report was made and the car was not logged as being stolen until Mr Coates went to Sturt police station. The matter was now registered with the complaints authority.

The allegations follow the death of Callington woman Pirjo Kemppainen, 63, who was found murdered 16 hours after she called the 131 444 police assistance line for help on September 11 last year. A report into that incident has not been made public.

Opposition police spokesman David Ridgway said the incidents were eroding public confidence in the system. "That's three phone calls within a few of hours of each other," Mr Ridgway said. "Clearly there is some breakdown in the communication centre and there should be an inquiry.

"When people ring 000 they expect to get a response. You can't have people ringing 000 and getting no response."


A rogue national police agency

Crimes agency caught bypassing law

THE country's peak criminal intelligence agency has been caught bypassing part of its oversight regime regarding one of its most secretive activities: officers participating in crime.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman criticised the Australian Crime Commission yesterday for renewing its own "controlled operations authorities".

Controlled operations are undercover investigations where officers are given permission to be involved in certain crimes in order to catch criminals.

The Crimes Act requires the commission to seek a renewal for ongoing controlled operations every three months from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. But the Ombudsman discovered the commission had taken to issuing wholly new authorisations internally in what amounted to bypassing the law.

The report, released yesterday, revealed that two controlled operations that began in 2007 had their last tribunal reviews in December 2008, but continued for at least another 12 months.

No law enforcement officer is allowed to participate in or allow serious crimes such as grievous bodily harm, rape or murder. Dealing or trafficking drugs or money are allowed, however.

"That's a fairly significant power that an agency has … and the Parliament's intent was that power be used judiciously and there be significant oversight," the acting Ombudsman, Alison Larkins, said.

The commission's chief executive, John Lawler, said it had been complying with the Ombudsman's interpretation of the Crimes Act since November: "The ACC does not view this as a breach … However, the ACC does acknowledge and accept the Ombudsman's position and has adjusted its practices."

Meanwhile, Australia's foreign spies have the right to monitor Australians overseas if they are engaged in UN sanctions busting. The change, to Australia's Intelligence Services and ASIO acts, was among several amendments passed by the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, in Parliament yesterday.

Australia's foreign spies - ASIS, the Defence Signals Directorate and the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation - are only allowed to collect intelligence on Australians if given permission by their minister.


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