Sunday, January 29, 2012

Federal police slow to deal with complaints about abuse of powers etc.

And undue weight is given to the police version of events -- standard procedure when cops investigate cops

THE Australian Federal Police is taking more than a year to address many serious complaints by the public and has ignored repeated calls to fix how it deals with such cases.

In two extreme matters complainants had to wait 1000 days for their problems to be resolved.

A report by the Commonwealth Ombudsman on complaints handling by the federal police also said the public had only a 7 per cent chance of having a complaint upheld, and even less if it related to physical force.

The most common complaint related to discourtesy. Other claims included excessive physical force and corruption.

The acting Ombudsman, Alison Larkins, said the complaints process "continues to deteriorate - particularly in relation to the most serious complaints". The issue had been raised in previous reviews. "But to date the measures the AFP has taken to address the issue have not proven to be effective," Ms Larkins said.

She did not make any formal recommendations in her report, which was tabled in Parliament just before Christmas. No complaint made about excessive physical force from 2007 to 2010 was upheld. But 60 per cent of complaints made internally, including where officers reported themselves, were upheld.

"We continue to see cases where an AFP member's version of events is preferred over that of the member of the public in circumstances where the record does not disclose substantive justification or where corroborating evidence has not been sought," Ms Larkins said.

The federal police aims to resolve minor complaints within 21 days and the most serious complaints within 180 days. But the Ombudsman found it reached this standard in only 6 per cent of cases. Ms Larkins examined 311 cases in which the complaints had still not been resolved after more than a year.

The police received 358 complaints from the public in 2010-11, according to its annual report.

A federal police spokeswoman said a new complaints handling system was in place. "The AFP does recognise that there have been excessive delays in finalising some complaints," she said.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Queensland cops harass tennis ace

He believes it is because of his Yugoslav ethnicity. Knowing some of the characters in the Qld. police, I can believe it. In the Qld. police you can kill a black man in custody and then be promoted to Inspector

LAWYERS for tennis ace Bernard Tomic will seek out Queensland's top cop to resolve an ugly dispute over a series of $300 traffic tickets.

The 19-year-old, who last week made the fourth round of the Australian Open, was driving his orange BMW sports car when he was pulled over twice in quick succession on Australia Day and issued with traffic infringement notices for driving contrary to the conditions of his licence.

P-platers would ordinarily not be allowed to drive a high-performance vehicle but the world No.38 has been granted an exemption for circumstances relating to his career as a professional tennis player.

After an extraordinary stand-off with police at his parents' Southport home on Thursday, Tomic yesterday engaged top Queensland defence lawyer Chris Nyst, who has represented high-profile clients from football stars to the postcard bandit Brenden Abbott.

The saga made national headlines and went berserk on social networking sites.

Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser yesterday bought in to the debate, declaring no one was above the law.

Mr Nyst yesterday emerged from a meeting with fellow solicitor Jason Murakami and the Tomic family, saying he could not see what the rising star had done wrong and that he would seek a meeting with the office of Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson.

"I can't see that there has been any wrong done, from what I have been told," he said. "We will speak to the Commissioner about that and see what we make of it."

A spokesman for the Department of Transport and Main Roads said P-platers could be eligible for a certificate of exemption to drive a high-powered vehicle, particularly if it was needed for work.

Between July 2010 and April 2011, the department granted 544 such certificates.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Police investigate repeated bashing of cricket fan

There were 4 cops around the guy and they already had him down so there was clearly no excuse for the rain of punches. They may have needed to cuff him and frogmarch him to a paddywagon but that is all

POLICE have launched an internal review after footage was released of an officer repeatedly punching a fan at a Sydney cricket match.

"Following vision from a media organisation being made available to police, an internal review of the incident is now under way," a police spokeswoman told AAP today.

"As part of that review police will be speaking with police officers and security personnel and will be examining CCTV.

"Police employ a variety of techniques to achieve compliance and the review will examine whether the techniques used in this instance were appropriate to the situation."

Footage aired by the Seven Network shows a uniformed NSW officer hitting a person at least five times as three security officers restrain the spectator in the stands of the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

Police allege a 39-year-old man from the southern NSW town of Barellan refused to leave the SCG at about 11pm (AEDT) on Wednesday despite repeated requests to do so.

The man allegedly resisted arrest and was taken to Surry Hills police station where he was issued with a field court attendance notice for remaining within a licensed premises and resisting police.

The police spokeswoman could not confirm the rank of the police officer involved and a court date is yet to be finalised.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Pyrrhic victory for the AFP

Their victims got only a slap on the wrist while the AFP got a $10,000 costs award against them! I hope the cops concerned have received "advice". And will the quarantine officer be disciplined for illegally seizing passports?

AN elderly couple have been cleared of obstructing Commonwealth officials after a fracas at Perth International Airport. The incident resulted in the Australian Federal Police arresting the man and throwing him head first into the back of a police van.

Magistrate Catherine Crawford acquitted Neville Willsea, 72, of the obstruction charge this afternoon at a trial at the Perth Magistrates Court. His 70-year-old wife, June Willsea, had also been charged with the same offence but it was dropped at the start of the trial.

However, Magistrate Crawford found the couple guilty of disorderly behaviour after they raised their voices and swore at staff in the customs hall of the Perth International Airport in May, 2010.

The retired couple, who have been together for about 50 years, spend the majority of each year living in Bali, and the court heard they had made the trip from Denpasar to Perth about 25 times.

During the trial, several witnesses told the court Mr and Mrs Willsea became agitated during an argument with a quarantine officer as they went through customs after disembarking from a flight from Bali. An argument arose over a trolley, and the quarantine officer took the couple's passports from them, which they demanded back.

Two nearby Australian Federal Police officers heard the commotion and came over to try to sort the situation out.

Mr Willsea is said to have touched one officer on the chest with the back of his hand and put his other hand down to take hold of the officer's wrist.

The officer reacted immediately, and arrested Mr Willsea, throwing him to the ground and handcuffing him. Closed circuit television footage was played in court showing Mr Willsea being bundled into the back of the police van head first with one shoe on.

Commonwealth prosecutor Alan Troy alleged the pair acted in an "insulting, offensive, threatening" manner.

He also told the court Mr Willsea resisted the arrest and reached for a police officer's hand, which was near his gun, which Mr Troy said led to the officer handcuffing Mr Willsea. "[The officer] was not dealing with a small man," Mr Troy said in court. "He's dealing with someone who is agitated and angry."

Defence lawyer Laurie Levy argued that the quarantine officer who orginally confiscated the passports had no authority to take passports from Mr and Mrs Willsea, and they were entitled to react in the way that they did.

Mr Willsea gave evidence during the trial and claimed the quarantine officer was waving the couple's passports above her head before passing them onto a male colleague. He said he and his wife continually asked for their passports back but he denied swearing or threatening to jump over the counter, as police claimed. “I do not use profane language around women,” he said.

In sentencing, Magistrate Crawford said flights from Bali were considered high-risk for customs staff as many people did not declare goods they were bringing back into the country.

Magistrate Crawford found Mrs Willsea shouted loudly while demanding the passports back and verbally abused staff, saying to one she was a "disgrace", a "dickhead" and "not Australian".

She said she rejected evidence Mr Willsea gave during the trial that he had not sworn because he did not use profane language in front of females, and had used the word "f***" at least once.

"Each behaved in a disorderly manner which contributed loud noise and also caused disruption to the processing of passengers," Magistrate Crawford said. "It was Mrs Willsea's reaction, the shouting and the abuse, that escalated the situation. "There were a large number of people in the [customs] hall at the time."

The couple were each given a $500 conditional release order for six months. Magistrate Crawford recorded spent convictions for both.

She acquitted Mr Willsea on the obstruction charge, saying she found he was seeking help for his wife, who was becoming increasingly distressed, from the police officer and was not trying to grab hold of the gun.

"There doesn't appear to be any reason why matters could not have proceeded by way of summons rather than arrest," she said. The prosecution were ordered to pay $10,000 in court costs.

Outside court, a member of the couple's defence team said they were "very disappointed" with the result of the trial and Mr Willsea regretted the incident "deeply". "But, of course, they're very satisfied with the sentence that was imposed," he said.

"Her Honour took into account the treatment that [Mr Willsea] received at the hands of the relevant officers and the physical effects of that treatment in deciding to give spent conviction orders and good behaviour bonds.

"As I understand it, Mr and Mrs Willsea just want to go back to Bali and live their life as elderly, peaceful people as they have been all their lives."