Sunday, May 8, 2011

Third of WA cops on 'report'

ALMOST a third of WA's police force is expected to be grilled by internal affairs officers over "incompetent" police work. About 1800 of WA's 5800 cops face interviews by internal affairs officers, after statewide audits revealed thousands of court briefs had not been completed.

The botched paperwork means hundreds of offenders may have escaped criminal charges. In some cases, drivers who recorded blood-alcohol readings in excess of 0.15 or three times the legal limit were never charged.

The flaws, revealed by The Sunday Times in March, were exposed when checks of manual logs showed they did not match WA Police's electronic court-tracking database, known as BriefCase. A total of 4278 court briefs had not been completed or lodged.

The internal affairs investigations come after revelations in March that two officers were stood down when the review uncovered thousands of unfinalised court briefs, which form the basis for police prosecutions. It found that some officers had not even started briefs for chargeable offences and, as a result, summonses were never issued and court proceedings never started.

It is understood police investigating the discrepancies have tracked more than 200 outstanding briefs to Newman police station alone. More than 40 officers who have worked in Newman have been interviewed.

But inquiries have not found any serious misconduct that would warrant additional officers being stood down.

A special team of officers has been assembled to investigate the discrepancies and identify which cases need following up. Internal affairs officers will interview officers asking for a "please explain", but the inquiry will not be completed before September.

Sources have told The Sunday Times it is likely hundreds of offenders will never be charged because too much time has lapsed, usually 12 months or two years depending on the offence.

Opposition police spokeswoman Margaret Quirk said the alarming number of officers involved should not be dismissed as an administration oversight. She said officers should be adequately supported by personnel and information techology systems.


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