Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How unsurprising: Crooks even in the NSW Police "Integrity" branch

They admit to being in the wrong but think that they can bully their way out of paying what they owe

THEY are meant to serve and protect, but NSW Police has been hauled to court for alleged breach of software copyright. Similar accusations have been levelled against the Police Integrity Commission and NSW Ombudsman.

Mainframe software provider Micro Focus has launched proceedings against the trio in the Federal Court in Sydney, claiming the unauthorised use and distribution of its mainframe software, ViewNow.

The primary claim in the breach of copyright civil suit is against NSW Police, which Micro Focus claims, copied its software and handed it out to third party agencies without its approval. It had licences to install ViewNow on up to 6500 computers across its organisation but Micro Focus claims that 16,000 copies in total were in use.

According to the statement of claim file by Micro Focus, NSW Police is accused of making and distributing unauthorised copies of ViewNow, which is used to access the computerised operations policing system application, dubbed COPS.

COPS is essentially the mega police database that holds every morsel of operational information police officers require to do their jobs. This includes data on criminals, speeding tickets and warrants.

ViewNow is a mainframe terminal emulator that connects a user's PC with COPS. NSW Police has been using the software since 1998. Other agencies such as the NSW Roads and Transport Authority have licences to use ViewNow, as they would need to access certain information in COPS.

It is also claimed that police personally installed unauthorised copies of the software at the Police Integrity Commission, and provided the PIC with installation guidance for 47 computers, the document, served more than a week ago, said. In addition, NSW Police allegedly copied and distributed another Micro Focus software, called Rumba.

Micro Focus local chief Bruce Craig claimed the company had lost millions of dollars in licensing fees because of the alleged intellectual property infringement by NSW Police. Mr Craig said Micro Focus had entered into dialogue with NSW Police on several occasions to resolve the matter, but to no avail.

NSW Police did not comment on the claimed loss in licensing revenue, but said it acted in good faith to resolve a number of issues in relation to contractual arrangements for software licenses with Micro Focus. "Police has offered to undergo mediation in relation to these issues and regretfully that offer has been rejected.

"Police has made what it believes to be a reasonable financial offer following disputation over the number of licenses purchased by the force," a NSW Police spokeswoman said. She said NSW Police had also offered to participate in an independent audit with regard to Micro Focus software obtained by other NSW government agencies via its police force.

"That audit would extend to the use by Police of an enhanced software product for which the appropriate licensing arrangements were not in place. Police has made a further financial offer in relation to that matter. "Both the audit and financial offer have been rejected," she said.

The police spokeswoman stressed that NSW Police was "strongly of the view that a mediated outcome remains the best option for both parties in reaching an amicable outcome".

The Police Integrity Commission declined to comment.

The NSW Ombudsman said it was not in a position to comment, as the matter was in court. "This office has acted at all times in good faith and is committed to resolving this issue," a spokeswoman said.

According to the statement of claim, Micro Focus has asked to conduct "discovery" to ascertain the full extent of alleged damages.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Qld. Police investigation unchanged by report

Premier Anna Bligh is not serious about police corruption and misbehaviour

THE case for reform of the Queensland Police Service's internal complaints and disciplinary system could not have been better put than by one of its own. After a series of high-profile scandals about police investigating police, a veteran sergeant laid bare a fix to breaking the culture of protecting their own within the 10,000-strong service.

Interviewed by a government-ordered review panel into a system increasingly under attack, the frustrated officer aired the views of many in uniform.

"We should have learned our lessons from [the Palm Island experience] about police investigating police and allegations of bias, but we haven't," he told the panel of independent experts, under a condition of anonymity.

"Continually allowing police who have close relationships with each other to investigate each other does nothing for maintaining professionalism and will no doubt be heavily scrutinised down the track if files are not investigated to the satisfaction of [others in the system]".

But they didn't listen. Despite the panel this week handing down a damning report with 57 recommendations for reform, police will continue to investigate police.

The failure of the panel to proffer alternate models, including the establishment of a police ombudsman, is in stark contrast to the worrying findings of its report. It concludes the police's internal complaints and disciplinary procedures are "dysfunctional and unsustainable".

"Complaints and police are subjected to a complex, administratively burdensome, overly legalistic and adversarial process that is dishonoured by chronic delays, inconsistent and disproportionate outcomes," the 160-page report says.

The main catalyst for the review was the discredited investigation into the 2004 death in custody of Palm Island man Mulrunji Doomadgee.

Last year, the Crime and Misconduct Commission recommended disciplinary charges against six officers involved in the investigations, which were later rejected by Queensland Police.

Instead, four officers who led the initial investigation - described by deputy coroner Christine Clements as lacking "transparency, objectivity and independence" - underwent "managerial guidance" along with two senior officers who later reviewed and endorsed their probe. In the Doomadgee case and several others senior police have laid some of the blame for these investigations on the CMC.

They argue the anti-corruption watchdog, or even a new police oversight agency, should take on much more, if not all, investigations into police for no other reason than removing a perception of bias and giving the public some sense of independence. It is a fair cop. Despite a 350-strong staff, and $40 million budget, the CMC in 2009-10 investigated fewer than 2 per cent of the approximately 3500 complaints against police.

The CMC cases usually involve allegations of official misconduct warranting criminal charges or the officer's dismissal. All other complaints are automatically referred to the Queensland Police for investigation.

And many of those complaints are handed to police in the same station where the officer under investigation works. "This is where police who know each other, and may work together, investigate the other. This scenario presents an inherent conflict for objective impartial investigations, and outcomes," the report says.

The report says some police overcooked their investigations out of fear of being criticised, building huge files as they looked "down every rabbit hole", even for less serious complaints.

The practice of police investigating police was brought about by former premier Peter Beattie who, in January 2002 introduced legislation amalgamating the then Criminal Justice Commission and the Crime Commission to form the CMC.

It followed an earlier trial conducted by the CJC and police to hand over minor complaints to police as part of a "capacity building" drive across the public service to handle its own problems and, in doing so, enhance integrity.

At the time, Beattie told parliament: "In recognition of reform within the police service since the Fitzgerald inquiry [1987], the bill returns responsibility to police for investigating and dealing with police misconduct."

The amendments were also intended to free the CMC's caseload and quicken the pace of investigations.

It didn't happen. "Excessive time frames for resolution of matters continue to undermine achievement of an efficient, effective and economic system in which stakeholders and the wider community can have confidence," the report says.

After the release of the report, Anna Bligh conceded the disciplinary and complaints system needed reform to restore public confidence.

The report is open for public consultation for the next six weeks. The government's response is expected several months later. Queensland Police have not commented.

And while the panel looked at other models, including an ombudsman to handle police complaints, there is little movement in addressing the issue of police investigating police, which has undermined the system in the eyes of the public.

Instead, among the 57 recommendations the panel seeks to remove police investigators in only the most serious cases, those now handled by the CMC.

Under the reform, officers seconded to the CMC will be banned from investigating, with cases led by private investigators or interstate police brought in to the watchdog.

Terry O'Gorman, president of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties, says the report shows the government is not serious about tackling the "crisis of confidence" in Queensland Police.

O'Gorman says the Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity provide models for recruiting outside investigators to probe complaints against Queensland's police.

" More than 90 per cent of complaints are automatically referred back to police, with some officers investigating police in their own station, who they socialise with," he says. "It is a backward step; it is not credible.

"Outside police are necessary because of the perception and, sometimes the reality of police investigating police leads to a whitewash."


Saturday, May 28, 2011


Press release:

Queensland Party candidate for Toowoomba North and former ALP MP Peter Pyke today undertook that Queensland police commissioner Bob Atkinson would be sacked on the spot if the Queensland Party gains enough MPs to control balance of power in the Queensland Parliament in the next state election.

Pyke, a former Queensland police sergeant himself who figured in the Fitzgerald inquiry, is expected to become a spokesperson for a senior portfolio when these positions are announced by Queensland Party Leader, Aidan McLindon MP for Beaudesert, commencing next week.

Pyke has been prominent over the past three years targeting Atkinson’s leadership, stridently demanding that the commissioner and both deputies be sacked. Controversial deputy commissioner Kathy Rynders has since retired after what many see as a dummy spit when Atkinson’s contract was surprisingly renewed ahead of time under eyebrow-raising circumstances following rumours of messy high jinks between Rynders and Bligh Government Minister Karen Struthers.

The Queensland Party’s Toowoomba North candidate says Atkinson is a disgraced political puppet who has distinguished himself by allowing the police union to run the Service at critical times while backing up the union in its adamant stance that no Queensland police officer ever does anything wrong.

“Under Atkinson’s failed leadership, we’ve had the Palm Island death in custody cover-up with not one cop involved charged with anything, we’ve had Queenslanders and our tourist guests bashed all over the state with secret payouts to many when thug coppers’ violence was captured by their own CCTV, for Cripe’s sake!” Pyke says. “We’ve had the Taser debacle which continues to play out and we now get to watch as the CMC and QPS do a wink and a nod as Gold Coast police corruption is smoothed over with the sacrifice of just a few low-level players,” Pyke says.

Pyke says the QPS now suffers substantial morale problems, lags other comparable services technologically and should have been equipped with rotary-winged aircraft a decade ago.

“Commissioner Atkinson's record is pathetic - he wouldn’t make a commissioner’s bootlace!” Pyke says. "My message to him for the past three years has been ‘don’t come Monday’. If Victoria thinks it's got problems with Simon Overland – and they have - they are not alone."

Pyke is understood to have expressed a viewpoint to the Queensland Party about being appointed the Party’s police spokesperson.

Pyke says the Queensland Party will replace Atkinson with a successful and effective police director who will be more than just a successful detective with nothing else going for him. He’d also like to see a Police Board.

“What do detectives know about running a modern police service?” Pyke asks. “I’d put them all back into uniform unless they were on an operation. Just like Royal Commissioner Tony Fitzgerald QC recommended 20 years ago.”

Pyke says he’d also like to see Queensland’s crop of fat cops put on the beat until they trimmed down.

MEDIA CONTACT: PETER PYKE 0427 388 598 peterpyke@optusnet.com.au

Friday, May 27, 2011

Vic. police boss lobbied Office of Police Integrity to water down criticism of dodgy crime stats

VICTORIA'S chief of police Simon Overland tried to persuade the Office of Police Integrity to water down a damning report on the force's handling of crime statistics.

The Chief Commissioner - who during a press conference yesterday asked "Who failed stats?" and raised his own arm - recently wrote to OPI director Michael Strong to ask him to remove one scathing criticism and to suggest other changes.

The section of the report Mr Overland wanted deleted related to an OPI finding that Victoria Police had listed almost 160,000 crimes since 1998 as being solved even though charges were never laid.

Mr Strong refused Mr Overland's request to delete a finding that the method of recording crime was flawed and "open to manipulation".

Controversy over the OPI report, which was tabled in the Victorian State Parliament yesterday, comes after the Herald Sun this week revealed the force fudged official data to paint a rosier picture of crime.

There is a second probe into police handling of crime statistics. Ombudsman George Brouwer is examining whether senior officers were pressured to release favourable crime statistics in the lead-up to 2010's state election, as a boost to the former Labor government.

Mr Strong yesterday left the door open for the OPI to examine whether the force's release of figures showing a 27.5 per cent drop in Melbourne CBD street assaults was politically motivated, and whether any crime was committed in its doing so. "I propose to wait until the outcome of the Ombudsman's investigation before determining what, if any, action OPI will take," he said.

Police Minister Peter Ryan said he still "supports" Mr Overland, despite the damaging findings in the OPI report.

But Mr Ryan said it was important that no decision was made on the allegations that crime statistics had been skewed for political gain - and any knock-on impact on Mr Overland's future - until after the Ombudsman's report is made public. The report from the Ombudsman could be tabled in Parliament next week.

"We will make determinations at that time, but it will be considered, and there will be no knee-jerk reactions," Mr Ryan said.

The OPI probe identified 155,678 crimes since 1998 that had been recorded on Intent to Summons forms and listed as solved, even though no charges were ever laid. In many cases, the alleged suspect wasn't even questioned about the crimes.

"Although the overall impact on Victoria Police crime clearance rates is statistically insignificant, it is a process open to manipulation," the report said.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Victoria Police fudged official data to paint a rosier picture of crime

POLICE face a new scandal over misleading Victorians on crime statistics. A Herald Sun investigation has found the force fudged official data to paint a rosier picture of crime.

Police chief Simon Overland was already facing a probe over selective reporting of crime figures.

New data revealing increases in crimes in 2010 were bigger than portrayed last night sparked a war of words between force command and outgoing deputy commissioner Sir Ken Jones.

Police command claimed in February that "recorded crime across the state has dropped by 6.9 per cent - or 19,395 offences". But the Herald Sun has found the 19,395 fewer crimes is a fall of 5.2 per cent, not 6.9 per cent.

The gap arises because the percentage change quoted by police is based on the rate of crime per 100,000 people, not the actual number of offences. By linking the two figures police created the impression that increases in crimes were smaller and decreases larger due to the impact of rising populations on rates per 100,000. The same confusing link was repeated throughout the press release. It claimed:

* Assaults rose "0.8 per cent (904 offences)" but the rise in bashings was really 2.6 per cent.

* Robberies fell "4.6 per cent (93 offences)", but the 93 fewer robberies was in fact a 2.9 per cent decrease.

* Home burglaries fell "4.8 per cent (852 offences)". Actual fall: 3.1 per cent.

* Car thefts fell "8.8 per cent (1081 offences)" but the real fall in offences was 7 per cent.

* Property damage fell "10.9 per cent (5048 offences)". The fall was actually 9.3 per cent.

The Herald Sun obtained the data after a three-month battle with police command.

Detailed data for 13 selected crime categories for each local police area posted on the force's My Place website showed only crime numbers and changes per 100,000 people. In 26 cases, the raw data obtained by the Herald Sun shows that where crime reductions had been claimed, actual offences had either increased or not changed.

Assistant media director Charlie Morton said the force stood by the data. "The raw data in the February (press) release was added at the express request of Sir Ken Jones in the interests of greater transparency," he said. He said expressing crime rates per 100,000 allowed people to compare their crime risk to other places with different populations.

But Sir Ken last night blamed others for the confusion. Breaking his silence since being given his marching orders by Mr Overland almost three weeks ago, the deputy commissioner confirmed he had asked for raw data to be included in the press release announcing the selective data because "percentages do not always convey the situation in ways which people can take in".

"On seeing the early drafts I asked that actual raw numbers be included wherever percentages were used and expected that the raw data be matched to the percentages," Sir Ken said.

"Great care needs to be taken when presenting mixed data to ensure that the message is consistent. "This is the responsibility of those whose job it is to collate and audit the data."

But victims' advocate Noel McNamara said police had been fudging the figures for years. "It's all smoke and mirrors but really, why wouldn't you want to tell the public the truth?

Murrumbeena grandmother Joan Beaumont, 73, the victim of a robbery at an ATM last month, said police figures can't be trusted. "I don't believe people who do that (withhold information)," she said.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Useless police boats

Two vessels at Christmas Island were not operational on the day an asylum seeker boat shipwrecked on the island’s cliffs, killing up to 50 people, because they were deemed unsafe and were not certified to be on the water, a coronial inquiry into the tragedy was told today.

Four vessels – two Navy and two Customs – were used in the desperate rescue attempt in perilous conditions as the vessel known as SIEV 221 crashed into rocks and sank on December 15. Only 42 of the 89 people on board the wooden vessel survived.

Giving evidence at the inquest, Australian Maritime Safety Authority ship inspections manager Alex Schultz-Altmann said the Australian Federal Police vessel stationed at Christmas Island, the Colin Winchester, and a volunteer marine rescue boat, the Sea Eye, could not be used in the dangerous rescue because they were overweight and had buoyancy issues, which put the vessels at risk of rolling over at sea.

Mr Schultz-Altmann said the Colin Winchester was inspected in August last year and the AFP was given three months to rectify its deficiencies, but to date the vessel’s certification of survey was still cancelled, ruling it inactive. He said the design problems also applied to another two AFP vessels around Australia.

The Sea Eye had been quarantined from use since it arrived on Christmas Island last July because of its design flaws, he said.

Mr Schultz-Altmann told the inquest the vessels were banned from normal operations, but could be used as a last resort in life-threatening emergencies at sea. But he said the vessels could only be used in fair-weather rescues and would not be able to cope with wave height greater than 1.5m. Wave conditions on the day of the shipwreck were far worse than that.

He said it was up to the person who operated the vessels to understand their limitations and not to put lives of people on board the boats at risk.

When questioned by counsel assisting the Coroner Malcolm McCusker, Mr Schultz-Altmann said he was not sure what type of vessel would be suitable at Christmas Island but said the AFP was looking into replacement vessels.

Mr Schultz-Altmann said two other Customs vessels at Christmas Island had rough weather limitations placed on them, but they were patrol and law enforcement boats that were not suitable for search and rescue.

Lazy Victorian cops

Thief gets away with stolen iPad because police won't act

Police are yet to knock on the door of an alleged iPad thief almost a month after tracking software located a stolen device.

On Wednesday April 27, two digital cameras, a watch and a 3G Apple iPad were stolen from the home of Tim M, 24, who lives in St Kilda Road Central, Melbourne. In total the items stolen were worth $2000, said Tim, who did not want his last name published.

But police are yet to act on evidence showing where the iPad was last located after it was stolen. This is despite Victoria Police successfully using a helicopter last December to locate a boy who allegedly stole a woman's iPhone from a hospital in Melbourne's north-east.

There have also been countless overseas cases of people tracking down their stolen iPhones, iPads and MacBooks using tracking software. In these cases police have had no issues with using the evidence.

Tim is now considering knocking on the door himself but fears it may be too late. "It's definitely crossed my mind," he said. "I've thought of different ways I could try and approach the situation and I've always kind of held back because you never know what you're going to get."

He said that, immediately after noticing his iPad was stolen, he sent a message to its screen – using Apple's Find My iPad software - saying that if it was found it should be returned to him. He included a telephone number.

On Friday, April 29, about 7.30pm, he received an email stating that his message had been read. He immediately logged into Apple's Find My iPad service, which also reports the iPad's physical location, and found that it was located at a house in Hallam Reserve, Melbourne.

Seeing this, Tim called South Melbourne police station to inform them. "They said they were going to have to check it out," Tim said. "They couldn't just go and barge into that place unannounced," he added.

He said officers at the police station told him that they would try to process a search warrant. But, after calling back on that Sunday, he was told that the evidence that he provided to police was not going to give them enough for a warrant to search the suspected home.

Tim said he was "really frustrated at this point" because he knew exactly where the iPad was but could do nothing about it. For "safety reasons" he did not visit the place himself. He was also upset because he did not have insurance. He said he was going to give the iPad to his mother "because she's a bit of a technophobe".

"The only thing they [South Melbourne police] said they could do was send someone around from the local police station and go and ask questions. They said that they were going to do that."

The tracking software no longer shows in real time where the iPad is now located as it is likely that the person who stole it wiped it, Tim said. But he said he still had screenshots showing where it was on April 29.

When Tim contacted South Melbourne police station for an update last Friday he was told that the detective examining his case was on leave.

In a statement to Fairfax, Victoria Police media said that, as the matter was under investigation, it would be "inappropriate to comment further". "If the complainant in this matter has concerns about the investigation, the complainant should contact the officer in charge of South Melbourne [Criminal Investigation Unit]."

Tim said that we lived in an age in which you could now "do the job before the police and tell them exactly where to go instead of them chasing down leads". "The technology exists with these sorts of devices ... to hone in on a specific location and show [the police] where it is."

From his point of view it seemed as if there was too much "bureaucracy and legislation" preventing the police from doing a "simple task" such as going around to the suspected house and showing the residents the evidence provided by Tim. "But they can't do anything like that because of the fear that they're doing the wrong thing and it's not allowed sort of thing."

Tim believed the iPad might also lead police to the other items that were stolen. "It's hard to say [whether it will lead to the other items] but at the time [it was located there] it was three days after the robbery that it was at that address," he said. "So I think when it had located it there would've been a high chance that those items would've been with it."

Tim said he did not want to blame the police who were involved. He said that they could have done things "more efficiently" but understood there were probably "more important" things that they had to get on to. [Diplomatic!]

Police culture must change, warns CMC chairman

THE chief of Queensland's crime watchdog has warned it could take generations to change the state's police culture. The comments by Crime and Misconduct Commission chairman Martin Moynihan came as an independent review found the police complaints system was dysfunctional, unsustainable, plagued by chronic delays and urgently in need of a major overhaul.

Mr Moynihan said "no tolerance" change must come from the top but admitted it would not be easy. "(Police) do a difficult job and are often in a dangerous environment so you have to depend on one another (and) you build a culture that supports that," he said. "In a sense, that's not going to go away, but . . . if they address (discipline) in different ways, it'll be easier for them and they'll get better acceptance."

The scathing report, sparked by the 2004 Palm Island death in custody case and tabled in State Parliament, has recommended 57 changes to the beleaguered discipline and misconduct system.

It called for officers seconded to the Crime and Misconduct Commission to be banned from investigating their own, a practice that has been publicly condemned and instead using private investigators or interstate police.

But former high-ranking government bureaucrat Simone Webbe, who co-wrote the report, insisted the recommendation did not question officers' integrity but addressed negative public perceptions.

She also recommended additional powers for the CMC to challenge disciplinary decisions handed out by police, along with the right to refer cases deemed too lenient to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal for review.

The State Government has supported the findings in principle and will form a solid position after public consultation closes in July.

The Queensland Police Union slammed the report as an ineffective instrument of reform that gave the CMC too much power. "It now gives the CMC the opportunity to be judge, jury and executioner if they do not agree with a decision made by the police service discipline system," QPU president Ian Leavers said.

The CMC has aimed to hand cases back to the police in a bid to boost the force's capacity to internally deal with allegations, but the report found the "devolution" policy meant complaints were referred down chains of command even "to the same station for investigation". "This is where police who know each other, and may work together, investigate the other. This scenario presents an inherent conflict for objective impartial investigations," it stated.

Often investigators then "overcooked" their inquiries for fear of being criticised or subjected to a misconduct probe themselves, amassing thousands of pages of evidence as they went "down every rabbit hole", even for less serious complaints. This created a "major chokepoint" in the system, the report found, with some cases in limbo as much as three years. It recommended seven months be the limit for serious cases and 28 days for lower-level allegations.

Police Minister Neil Roberts yesterday told The Courier-Mail "significant change" was needed but insisted the contentious practice of police investigating their own was legitimate. "I believe that there is a need for all organisations to be held accountable for identifying, detecting and dealing with its own," he said.

Yesterday's report also raised serious concerns about the dysfunctional information technology system, first earmarked for urgent upgrade a decade ago. A replacement system was planned under the phase three of the controversial QPRIME intranet rollout but that phase was scrapped.

The QPS said it would consider the report before making a submission.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sir Joh's Police Whitewash Tribunal is back

'Dysfunctional' Qld. police complaints system slammed in independent review

An independent review has found the Queensland Police Service complaints system is "dysfunctional and unsustainable". Premier Anna Bligh this morning tabled the report by independent experts, which recommends a new management system to deal with complaints and disciplinary matters.

She told State Parliament at Mackay the report “describes a system much in need of reform”. It states: “Complainants and police are subjected to a complex, administratively burdensome, overly legalistic and adversarial process that is dishonoured by chronic delays, inconsistent and disproportionate outcomes.”

The report outlines 57 recommendations, including that police officers no longer be able to investigate serious police misconduct at the CMC, instead using investigators from other states.

Timeframes for reporting on complaints would also be limited to seven months for more serious complaints and 28 days for minor complaints.

Ms Bligh said some cases had been investigated for up to three years “and that is unacceptable”.

Queensland cop suspended over motorbike incident

A QUEENSLAND cop who raced away from NSW police when they tried to pull him over while he was riding his motorbike has been stood down. It is believed the incident involving the 42-year-old constable happened in 2009 and that he subsequently lied to investigators about the matter.

The officer is from the south east police region, which takes in the Gold Coast, Logan and Coomera.

It is another blow to the reputation of Queensland police, coming just three days after another officer was stood down.

Last Saturday, a constable from the north coast region was suspended for allegedly committing a domestic violence offence whilst off duty.

"No further details are able to be released at this time as his alleged actions are currently subject to an ongoing internal disciplinary investigation," a QPS statement read.

Both officers can appeal the decisions but neither has the backing of the Queensland Police Union which was criticised earlier this year for routinely defending "indefensible" actions by some officers.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

NSW police liars walk free

Corrupt police behaviour, even if it is to arrest and convict a criminal, can never be justified, a Sydney judge has ruled -- but he still gave them zero penalty. At least they are out of the police force, I guess

SENTENCING two former police officers for fabricating evidence, a judge has described the case as an example of "noble cause corruption".

It was a tragedy that people with an unblemished past who had contributed to society for years as police would no longer be able to do so, Judge Paul Lakatos told the District Court in Sydney on Friday.

Michael Cox, Sharon Lucas and two other officers visited a house in Nixon Crescent, Wagga Wagga, early on October 27, 2008, to investigate a robbery during the night in which a car and a flat-screen television were stolen. Later, police found three cars in a local reserve. The stolen vehicle was on fire, another was driven from the scene and the third was found to contain mobile phones and wallets.

One of the phones contained a photograph of the stolen television. One wallet belonged to Matthew Prowse, of Nixon Crescent. When the police arrived at his house, no one was home but the stolen TV could be seen through a window.

The police decided not to obtain a search warrant but to enter illegally. Cox proposed using a key found in Prowse's wallet to gain entry and then later they could say the front door had been open when they arrived, and they had gone in because they heard noises and feared a robbery was in progress. The others agreed.

Cox radioed the police station to say this was what they were doing, and after the search, he recorded the false story in his police notebook. It was signed by all the officers.

A fourth officer, Peter Fletcher, told a colleague he was reluctant to put his name on a fact sheet containing the fabricated account. Nevertheless, Prowse was charged and all four police wrote false statements in support. But another officer, Andrew Brookes, told a colleague what had really happened.

This led to an internal inquiry, during which the phones of the four officers were tapped. They were heard exchanging comments about their "scrumdown" - police collusion to give the same evidence - such as: "We're airtight, mate. We're airtight."

The four were charged and pleaded guilty. Fletcher and Brookes received suspended sentences of 18 months each from Judge Stephen Norrish last year.

Judge Lakatos said that while the agreement to fabricate a story had been spontaneous, "I doubt that the notion of improper conduct arose then and there spontaneously".

He said the action raised questions about whether such conduct had occurred or at least been discussed by the officers before and "whether there is a culture that justifies illegal practices when those involved [i.e. the suspects] are believed to be guilty".

Quoting from the report of the royal commission into police corruption in the 1990s, he noted so-called noble corruption, to convict suspected criminals, could lead to corruption for financial gain.

However, there was no suggestion this had happened at Wagga Wagga. The illegal search had not even contributed to the conviction of Prowse for the robbery.

Judge Lakatos said he would have taken a more severe view of the offences had he not been constrained by the need for parity with the sentences handed down by Judge Norrish. Cox was sentenced to two years and Lucas to 18 months, both sentences suspended.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Qld. State Government settles out of court with woman sexually assaulted in watch-house by two police officers

Scum Buxton above

THE victim of a watch-house sexual assault by two disgraced former Maroochydoore police officers has won a damages payout from the State Government on the eve of a Supreme Court lawsuit hearing. Cindy Felsman, 32, sued the state after she was assaulted by rogue officers Peter Anthony Buxton and Zane Anthony Slingsby in the Maroochdyoore watch-house in 2005.

In 2007, Buxton was sentenced to six years' jail after pleading guilty to 24 charges of sexually assaulting women prisoners. Slingsby was sentenced to four years jail' on 10 charges, suspended after serving two years, for his role in abusing female inmates.

Ms Felsman's damages claim was to be heard in the Brisbane Supreme Court in a two-day hearing starting on Monday. However, the state today agreed to a confidential out-of-court settlement.

Ms Felsman said she was happy with the outcome and could now move on with her life. "I am also relieved I did not have to relive the details of my ordeal in open court," she said.

Ms Felsman's lawyer, Greg Smith of Smiths Lawyers, said the settlement would allow his client and her family to rebuild their lives after suffering years of trauma. "It was an appalling matter involving police in positions of power taking advantage of Cindy and other women who, while incarcerated, should never have been subjected to such atrocities," he said.

"The settlement also acknowledges the responsibility governments must take over those under their charge, especially when they are employed in positions of trust relating to public welfare and law enforcement."

Grossly incompetent NSW police

A FORMER high-flying Sydney accountant who police were hunting for five years over a multimillion dollar fraud has been found by his alleged victims living on the Gold Coast.

Mofid Bebawy set a real estate record when he paid almost $7 million for a mansion at Blakehurst in Sydney's south in 2003, only to be declared bankrupt three years later.

He faced Southport Magistrates Court today for an extradition hearing on 10 counts of passing more than $2 million in valueless cheques. The court was told the former Bankstown accountant allegedly repaid investors in his business with cheques that later bounced.

NSW police have been [NOT] hunting him since he left Sydney soon after his practice failed and thought he had fled to Egypt. They resorted to Facebook searches to try to find him, and arrested him only after investors tracked him down.

Defence lawyer Chris Nyst told the court it was a case of amateurish police work, as Mr Bebawy had been living on the Gold Coast with his wife of 23 years and four children and working in his son's accountancy practice.

Mr Nyst said Mr Bebawy had been reporting to his bankruptcy trustee and had a driver's licence showing his Gold Coast address. "To say that police couldn't find him and had to rely on some civilian assistance to find this man is at least something of an indictement on the competency of the NSW police," he told the court. "This is not a man who is fleeing from anybody or trying to live undercover."

Mr Nyst opposed the extradition but it was granted and Mr Bebawy was placed in the custody of NSW detectives for a flight back to Sydney, where he was due to face Bankstown Local Court this afternoon.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stupid and oppressive Queensland cops again

What was gained by any of this? The Qld cops have no time to follow up car theft but time for this nonsense!

We've all seen it happen on TV a zillion times. But when a police officer recited to me those well-rehearsed words – 'you have the right to remain silent … ' – I felt sick in the stomach.

The conversation with the two officers had started off in a friendly enough manner. I was in a session at the AusCERT security conference on the Gold Coast when I received a call from Detective Senior Constable Errol Coultis.

I thought he was from the Queensland Police media unit to begin with, but it soon became clear he was an officer who wanted to question me over a story I had written regarding a security expert's demonstration of vulnerabilities on social media sites such as Facebook.

The expert, Christian Heinrich, had delivered a slideshow presentation on Sunday to about 20 people showing how he had been able to gain access to the Facebook photos of the wife of a rival security expert, without a username or password. I hadn't been able to attend the presentation, but he went through it personally with me straight afterwards.

I thought it made a great story – a flaw in the system that meant not everything you uploaded to social networks was secure, even if placed behind a privacy-protected profile – and the yarn was published on Fairfax's news sites yesterday.

Hours later, Coultis's phone call came completely out of the blue. I walked out of the session and met him and his female offsider about 4.15pm, and, at my request, we went into a meeting room to discuss the matter in private.

They told me they were recording the conversation. I had my wits about me enough to ask if I could also record the conversation; Coultis agreed and so I pressed record on my iPhone.

For about half an hour I stood in this room – its only adornment dozens of green chairs stacked against one wall – and co-operated with what Coultis and his colleague described simply as "questioning" over the incident. I was reassured when he said he had no intention of arresting me and I agreed to help with his inquiries. Neither of them wore police uniforms – their casual clothes, including Coultis's AusCERT-branded T-shirt, comforted me further.

The officers were polite and there was even an amusing interlude when the female officer's iPhone rang, disrupting her recording of our conversations, and I gave Coultis some advice about how to set the iPhone to avoid further interruptions.

They seemed to treat me like a technical expert, and sought my explanation of what Heinrich had done. I felt like they were trying to get me to admit that his actions were illegal. I told them it was not my job to decide that – after all, I was only reporting on the matter. It's their job to decide whether what he demonstrated was against the law.

About half an hour into the questioning, Coultis left the room to liaise briefly with other officers. When he returned, he said: "What we're going to have to do, I'm afraid, Ben, is we're going to be taking possession of your iPad."

Now, anyone who knows me knows that my iPad and I are inseparable. As a technology reporter and a 20-year-old who has lived and breathed gadgets, my life is played out in tweets and Facebook posts. This device had become the centrepiece of my life – it's integral to my work because it's where I keep notes about stories, but it's also the digital tool I use to run my social and personal life.

When I questioned under what legislation they had the right to seize my iPad, Coultis told me I was under arrest in relation to receiving unlawfully obtained property.

What? What I had thought had been a simple case of answering some police questions had suddenly taken a turn for the worse. I felt as if I had been double-crossed. It seemed ridiculous that I, as the "messenger" who reported on what the police were now saying was a criminal matter, could now be the target.

Feeling shaken but with the adrenalin pumping, I phoned my boss and tried to contact lawyers. It was another one of those odd TV moments, when you're given the right to make a phone call. I did that, but being a Gen Y, I also tweeted the fact to my 5000 Twitter followers that I had been arrested.

Another hour of talking ensued, but now I was under instruction from my lawyers to keep my mouth shut. The officers spent much of the time on the phone to my boss and the lawyers, explaining why I was being held and what charges might be laid. At one point, they mentioned that I could be held legally for up to eight hours.

Throughout this, my phone did not stop ringing and buzzing as the Twitterverse took up my case. Hundreds of tweets were directed my way and to the Queensland Police media unit, questioning why a journalist had been arrested and sending me messages of support. At one point, when Coultis accompanied me to the toilet because I desperately needed to go, I showed him the responses.

Shortly before 6pm, I was given a receipt for my iPad and Coultis told me that I was "un-arrested". I was free to go, but, to the best of my knowledge, my iPad remains at an exhibits facility in Brisbane. I was told that forensics officers were going to make a complete copy of the information on my iPad, whether it related to this matter or not.

I feel like I have been unfairly targeted. Journalists must be able to report what they observe – that's what they've been doing for ages and so to see this kind of policing occurring is very alarming.

I believed that, as a journalist, I had protections. But it seems not. And to lose a device that contains not only private but work-related information is also another seriously alarming development for a journalist.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Secretive crime commission to be called to account

THE JUDICIARY has cleared the way for a public inquiry into the secretive NSW Crime Commission, accused by the police corruption watchdog of "systemic and long-standing" misconduct.

Last night, Justice Stephen Rothman of the Supreme Court rejected an unprecedented attempt by the head of the crime commission, Phillip Bradley, to quash hearings into the state's top intelligence body.

The judge also dismissed an argument by two senior commission officers, John Giorgiutti and Jonathan Spark, that the agency "as a corporate body and emanation of the Crown is incapable of engaging in misconduct". Justice Rothman said: "A corporation has neither a soul to be dammed, nor a body to be kicked."
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The crime commission confiscates millions of dollars' worth of criminal proceeds every year. In February, a Herald investigation revealed the commission had been sharing these proceeds with established criminal figures in hundreds of secret financial settlements.

Two weeks later, the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) moved to hold public hearings into a crime commission financial analyst who had been cutting such deals with his girlfriend, a solicitor acting for crime commission targets whose assets were under scrutiny.

The PIC believed "there is a public interest in the processes of public bodies being accountable" and its investigating lawyer had "recommended findings of misconduct against certain named individuals".

After learning of the intended hearings, Mr Bradley took legal action to stop the hearings and to restrain the PIC from publishing information it had obtained. The court rejected the crime commission's argument that the PIC had overstepped its powers.

During private hearings last year at the PIC, senior crime commission officers expressed a view that they had the power to arrange financial settlements with criminals regardless of what the legislation said, the judgment revealed.

Last night, the new Police Minister, Michael Gallacher, declined to say if he would direct Mr Bradley to allow the public hearings to go ahead and stop him appealing the decision.

Justice Bradley did strike out two minor elements of the proposed public inquiry. One concerned a letter drafted by the crime commission that may have misled Treasury about the commission's power to deduct costs from criminal proceeds.

The second was an allegation that the commission had "conspir[ed] to a sham arrangement" whereby an official retired and received benefits, even though they had already committed to being re-employed. While this might still be misconduct it was outside the PIC's scope, the judge said. The commission has until 4pm today to decide if it will seek a further stay of the inquiry in order to lodge an appeal.

Bungle piled upon bungle in S. Australia

POLICE have admitted to returning a stolen car to the wrong person following a serious crime. Adelaide man Tyson Coates has demanded answers after police also allowed a person to drive away with his car on Friday, despite he and a friend insisting he owned it.

Mr Coates' Nissan Skyline was finally recovered in Port Pirie on Saturday, but only after several other investigative errors which included police failing to respond to two 000 calls as he watched his car being stolen in the city two months earlier.

Mr Coates said police had also failed to act on another reported sighting of his car at Yatala prison because an official report had not been made.

Police yesterday confirmed the car had been returned to the wrong person after a serious crime in April which resulted in the arrest of two people. A spokesman said the car had different number plates and had been altered in other ways, leading police to return the car to the wrong person.

Police further confirmed the vehicle was pulled over on Friday after a sighting by one of Mr Coates' friends. Because of its altered appearance, it was released to the "apparent owner".

"As a result of further enquiries the vehicle was located and seized by police in Port Pirie and after confirmation of its identity was returned to the rightful owner," the police spokesman said.

Mr Coates said he was happy to have his car back but was disappointed by the police investigation. "I'm happy I got my car back, but not that it took so much stuffing around," he said. "I don't want anything personally, I've got my car back, but definitely something needs to be done about what is going on. "They had it impounded and gave it back to the wrong people, that is terrible."

Police had previously admitted a patrol failed to attend the scene of the initial robbery despite operator advice to the contrary. That resulted in police having no record of the theft when Mr Coates went to Sturt Police Station the following day to check on the investigation's progress.

That incident is being investigated by the Police Complaints Authority.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Missing cop Mick Isles's son says police were 'vultures'

THE son of a missing police officer choked back tears as he remembered his "best mate" in the Brisbane Coroner's Court. Steven Isles spoke on behalf of the family of Senior-Sergeant Mick Isles, 58, who vanished on September 23, 2009.

"My father was my best mate and it really was a disgrace to see such a display," he said of Queensland Police's investigation into his dad's disappearance.

He claimed Queensland Police had victimised his family and behaved like "absolute vultures".

A pre-inquest hearing heard the former officer-in-charge at Ayr had been scheduled to attend a training course in Townsville on the day he was missing, but failed to show up. The unmarked police car he'd been driving was later found in a dry creek bed, 80km south-west of Ayr. He hasn't been seen since.

Counsel assisting the coroner, Peter Johns, said the police officer's absence at the course did not raise concerns until his wife, Fiona, contacted police later that day. He said Mrs Isles also found notes expressing regret from her husband, but none which made any reference to suicide.

A gold prospector south-west of Ayr is expected to give evidence at his inquest, and is believed to be the last person to have seen him alive.

The court heard Sen-Sgt Isles had been under a great deal of stress due to a Crime and Misconduct Commission investigation, for which he was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing.

Mr Johns said Sen-Sgt Isles returned to work after being on sick leave, and said the inquest would examine the appropriateness of his rehabilitation plan. He said there was evidence the missing policeman had an "intense dislike" for one of his superiors, and considered him responsible for the treatment he'd received from the CMC.

A police uniform, a police swipe card, cash, a shotgun and ammunition were found in the vehicle, but a search of the area failed to find any trace of the father-of-three.

Mr Johns said the inquest would aim to determine whether Sen-Sgt Isles was deceased, and would examine the delay in reporting him missing and the adequacy of the search to find him. A survival expert is also due to give evidence to help State Coroner Michael Barnes make his findings.

The Isles family is not legally represented, but Sen-Sgt Isles' son Steven spoke on their behalf, accusing the police service of being a "boy's club" that had conducted a "deficient" and "biased" investigation into his father's disappearance.

Mr Barnes agreed to conduct the inquest in Brisbane at the family's request, and adjourned the hearing to a date to be fixed.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thug traffic police boss keeps his job after exceeding speed limit by 100km/h during an unauthorised chase

Gets a small fine only

A SENIOR traffic officer who drove at more than 100km/h over the speed limit in an unauthorised chase of a speeding motorcyclist in 2009 will hang on to his job as boss of the Pine Rivers traffic branch.

Senior Sergeant Bryan Eaton has escaped a significant sanction after the Crime and Misconduct Commission appealed a police service-imposed penalty as too lenient, and sought his dismissal.

The officer was originally given just a single-pay point deduction for a year by the QPS despite Assistant Commissioner Ross Barnett finding his conduct "endangered the safety of other road users".

"The risks posed by misconduct to yourself and other road users are unacceptable and contrary to the Safe Driving Policy," Mr Barnett found. "Further, the subsequent high speed pursuit of the motorcyclist was unjustified and contrary to the pursuit policy."

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard that on August 22, 2009, Sen-Sgt Eaton pursued a motorcycle at Burpengary at a speed of 225km/h in a 100km/h zone, and between 150 and 160km/h in a 60km/h zone. The chase was considered unauthorised and Sen-Sgt Eaton failed to activate lights and sirens as is the police pursuit policy.

The CMC sought to introduce new evidence to the matter, relating to Sen-Sgt Eaton's involvement in a police chase at Coen in far north Queensland in 2003 which resulted in the deaths of two men. Although a Coronial inquest into the deaths did not recommend charges against Sen-Sgt Eaton, his driving did attract significant criticism from the Coroner.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal senior member James Thomas accepted the evidence on a restricted basis, finding a "more severe" sanction needed to be imposed. He ordered a two-pay point reduction over nine months, amounting to a fine of about $1900.

"Chases of this kind put the public at risk and at regular intervals cause extreme distress from collateral damage," Mr Thomas said. "It is important that this policy, designed to enhance relations between the police and the public, be observed, especially by its senior officers."


Previous post here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Justice denied on Palm Island (Qld.)

Frank Brennan SJ

ON Monday I was in Townsville, talking to people about the latest saga in the police cover-up of the death of Mulrunji Cameron Doomadgee, the Aboriginal resident of Palm Island who never emerged alive from the police station after Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley fell on him in November 2004.

The Aboriginal community has had to endure three separate coronial inquiries; a decision by the Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions not to prosecute; the reversal of that decision on advice from Laurence Street, who said, "A jury could well find that the only rational inference that can be drawn as to the fatal injury is that it was inflicted by Hurley deliberately kneeing Mulrunji in the upper abdominal area"; the trial of Hurley, who was acquitted, with his barrister telling the jury Hurley was the "instrument of another young man dying and that is a cross he will carry for the rest of his life"; a detailed hearing before the Crime and Misconduct Commission that recommended "consideration be given to commencing disciplinary proceedings for misconduct" against six named police officers; a Supreme Court case denying the Queensland police commissioner the right to conduct the disciplinary proceedings on the grounds of apprehended bias; and now a decision by the deputy police commissioner that there is no need for any disciplinary action against any Queensland police officer.

All is well again in the state of Queensland. Or at least it is back to business as usual in Aboriginal-police relations.

The public is well familiar with the fact the investigating police officers were treated to a barbecue at Hurley's residence on arrival on Palm Island before they began the inquiry into the death caused by Hurley. The barbecue was just the beginning of the chummy police cover-up of their own negligence and dishonesty. Here is one of the CMC's observations about the extraordinary behaviour of Detective Senior Sergeant Raymond Kitching, Detective Inspector Warren Webber and Inspector Mark Williams: Kitching "agreed that he only offered to pathologists information that he considered reliable and relevant".

This seems in stark contradiction to his inclusion on the Form 1 of hearsay evidence about Doomadgee drinking bleach and his exclusion not only of Roy Bramwell's evidence but also of Penny Sibley's allegation of assault (the credibility of which had not been questioned).

In effect, Kitching seems to have informed the pathologist of information adverse to Doomadgee but excluded allegations adverse to Hurley." The pathologist, Guy Lampe, had been told by police that Doomadgee had swallowed bleach (he had not) but not that he had been assaulted (he had). The CMC said the police officers who conducted the internal review of this behaviour "appear to be simply providing reasons to justify Kitching's failure to make this information available to the pathologist, and Webber's and Williams' failure to check the Form 1".

The CMC, chaired by retired Supreme Court judge Martin Moynihan, concluded: "The investigation into the death of Mulrunji was seriously flawed, its integrity gravely compromised in the eyes of the very community it was meant to serve. The way in which the investigation was conducted destroyed the Palm Island community's confidence that there would be an impartial investigation of the death."

Last month, Queensland police deputy commissioner Kathy Rynders published a 410-page report finding that no officers needed be disciplined. She makes these observations about Kitching's Form 1 report: "I consider Kitching's failure to inform Dr Lampe of the assault allegations (whether reliable or not) a significant departure from service requirement and in the circumstance would warrant the commencement of disciplinary action. I note that Kitching included unconfirmed information concerning Mulrunji taking bleach. Similarly, he should have included information of the alleged assault made by Bramwell and Florence Sibley."

However, she says, "I do not consider Kitching's failure to inform Dr Lampe of the assaults constituted misconduct. However, for reasons already outlined and Kitching's acceptance that the allegations of assault should have been brought to the attention of Dr Lampe, it is not my intention to commence disciplinary action, but to provide managerial guidance."

Overall, she agrees with the CMC that there had been "failings in the initial investigation" but concludes that all her boys need is "managerial guidance". She thinks the serious flaws highlighted by the CMC relate only to matters "incidental to the investigation".

In her report, she writes, "The actions of the officers must be viewed objectively, not with the benefit of hindsight."

Addressing the Palm Island community's perception of the police misconduct, she observes, "There continues to be strong feelings amongst many in the community. The danger, however, is that strong feelings tend to cloud sound judgment. "

She concludes: "The evidence simply does not support action for misconduct or official misconduct."

Moynihan describes this decision by Rynders as "almost incomprehensible".

Three years ago, Mike Reynolds, who had been the long-time mayor of Townsville before becoming a government minister and then speaker of the parliament, called for a royal commission into the matter, saying, "This case has become so convoluted and tainted that I now believe truth and justice can only be obtained by a wide-ranging royal commission headed by an eminent jurist."

On Monday Reynolds repeated that call, telling me there was no other way for Queenslanders to put this matter behind them.

After the jury acquitted Hurley in September 2007, Aboriginal leader Gracelyn Smallwood said: "This has not ended the way we wanted it to, but it has been a win on our slow climb up the Everest of justice." On Monday she told me, "People are just so tired and drained. We have lost hope in the Queensland justice system. We've stopped climbing."

The Everest of justice is still well beyond the reach of Queensland Aborigines who happen to get in the way of the Queensland police, who remain a law unto themselves. Three years ago Premier Anna Bligh dismissed out of hand Reynolds's call for a royal commission. She was confident that the legal processes would produce a transparent, just result. We are now at the end of the legal process. The Bligh government needs to listen again to responsible citizens such as Reynolds and Smallwood. There must be a royal commission.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rigorous government inquiry to test Simon Overland and Victoria Police

Not a moment too soon. They are undoubtedly the most corrupt force in Australia

VICTORIA Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland faces a humiliating inquiry into his force with rarely used sweeping powers framed to radically overhaul the senior administration. The Baillieu government yesterday appointed Jack Rush QC to inquire into the structure, operations and administration of police command.

The move follows months of controversy that culminated in Mr Overland forcing his departing deputy Ken Jones to go on leave on Friday without alerting the government.

Mr Rush will have the power to force witnesses to surrender documents and answer questions under rarely used provisions in Victoria's Public Administration Act.

The government wants Mr Rush to uncover the truth behind the public falling-out between Mr Overland and Sir Ken. This means both men could be forced to surrender documents and provide evidence to the Rush inquiry.

The terms of reference under Mr Rush - who was the dogged counsel assisting the bushfire royal commission - include examining the effectiveness of the senior structure of police command, the extent to which the senior command structures work and the extent to which information technology and administrative functions are overseen.

Premier Ted Baillieu announced the inquiry after a marathon cabinet meeting debated Mr Overland's future and tried to find a way to break through the growing crisis over the chief commissioner's command.

While Mr Baillieu pledged support for Mr Overland, former National Crime Authority chairman Peter Faris QC described the inquiry as a two-step process to sack the police chief. "I think that if they had confidence in him, they would not be having an inquiry," Mr Faris said.

"The inquiry demonstrates a lack of confidence," he told The Australian. Under the powers of this inquiry, Mr Rush will be able to enter any office - whether police or government - to uncover evidence, force witnesses to surrender documents or provide evidence, and decide whether a witness receives legal representation. He will also be able to conduct the inquiry without being bound by the rules of evidence.

The announcement came as the Police Association called for a royal commission into the leadership and governance of the force over the past five years. Secretary Greg Davies said the government's decision to opt for an inquiry instead was a "very beige outcome".

"A royal commission could look into the massive failings that have become public knowledge in recent weeks going back for some half a decade," he said. "Not only in relation to the structures and leadership team of the Victorian police force, but the reasons that so many hundreds of millions of Victorian taxpayers dollars have been wasted."

Mr Baillieu said he was concerned by the "apparent difficulties that exist at the command level of Victoria Police". He also questioned why Mr Overland failed to alert the government that he planned to send Sir Ken on early leave, a move that was seen as an effective dismissal.

But legal advice was that Mr Overland had acted within his powers by sending Sir Ken on early leave, after Sir Ken had resigned, effective from August 5.

Just before cabinet debated his future, Mr Overland took a thinly-veiled swipe at Sir Ken, effectively accusing him on radio of having leaked details of a private email that is believed to have related to the row over parolees, where up to six people died because police officers had not been properly informed about who was on parole.

Mr Baillieu said that Mr Overland had provided a version of events of his row with Sir Ken. "The Chief Commissioner assured us that his decisions regarding the events of May 6 had been made on a proper and substantive basis," he said.

"It is critical that Victoria Police command works together closely and effectively in order to protect the Victorian community and ensure proper administration of the Victorian police force."

Mr Overland was appointed more than two years ago by Labor. He has endured months of controversy, including a $100 million overrun in the police crime database project, a row over police statistics handed to Labor last year and the alleged murder of up to six people by parolees who had already breached their parole conditions and could have been back in jail.

The government recently made it clear that it had lost patience with Mr Overland, but yesterday Mr Baillieu said he retained his confidence.

Mr Rush will report to the government within six months and the inquiry recommendations will be tabled within 30 parliamentary sitting days after that.

The Australian sought comment from Mr Overland. A spokeswoman said last night: "Victoria Police will work with the government to achieve the best outcomes for Victoria Police and the Victorian community."


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.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Victorian police officer still on the job despite behaviour

A DETECTIVE has kept his job and rank despite exposing himself to women.

The officer, from Melbourne's north, was charged with indecent behaviour over an incident last year. He was arrested at a beachside suburb after a complaint.

The officer appeared before a magistrates' court where he was fined $1000. No conviction was recorded. An internal disciplinary hearing later found the claims proven.

He was placed on a good-behaviour bond and will be ineligible for promotion until December next year.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said the penalty was at the discretion of the officer hearing the case.

The Herald Sun believes he had been experiencing personal problems before the offence, his first.