Wednesday, June 29, 2011

NSW police goons

POLICE used capsicum spray in a man's eyes and a stun gun on his brother without warning or explanation during an NRL grand final celebration at St George Leagues Club, a court heard yesterday.

Steve Bosevski, 35, said he was arrested for assault but was never charged and the police never explained why they had taken him away after a violent brawl erupted at the club on October 4 last year that left his twin brother, Steven, dead.

Mr Bosevski told an inquest yesterday that he had argued with a man shortly before the brawl but there had been no physical violence between them or anyone else before police arrived on the scene and used batons, capsicum spray and stun guns on the crowd.

The two brothers were so close that they still slept head-to-toe in the same bed at the Arncliffe home of their parents, Mr Bosevski told Glebe Coroner's Court yesterday.

The three-week inquest is examining the circumstances of Steven Bosevski's death, including if his fragile medical state had any significance and whether police used reasonable force. He had been held face down by two security guards and two police officers for four minutes, the court has heard.

An autopsy found he died from a combination of methylamphetamine toxicity and hypertensive heart disease.

Mr Bosevski broke down yesterday as he told of the moment he realised his twin was lying motionless on the floor with officers trying to revive him and he was prevented from going to him. "I said: 'please let me go and call my brother because, if he hears my voice, if he has any life in him he'll come back', and he [a police officer] said: 'you shut the f--- up'," Mr Bosevski said.

He said his eyes "burnt like hell" from the capsicum spray.

His brother, Tony, had moments earlier been shot with a stun gun, he said. "I've never heard him [Tony] scream in my life the way he screamed in that much pain; it hurt me…"

Mr Bosevski said he had been out on the terrace when police approached him and asked him to leave but did not explain why. He said he was pushed twice from behind by an officer. "I said: 'hey, what are you doing? I told you we are leaving' … he got out his capsicum spray and he got me in the eyes."

Philip Biggins, appearing for police, put to Mr Bosevski that on three occasions he had been asked by security guards to move away from the bar area and that, after he had argued with Robert Hristovski, a security guard said to him: "calm down or leave".

"No, no, that's wrong," Mr Bosevski said.

Mr Biggins said that one of his group said: 'they're f---ing kicking us out' and one of you said 'let's f---en go back in'. You deny that?"

"It didn't happen."

Appearing for the family, Winston Terracini, SC, asked Mr Bosevski if at any point security, police or club staff had asked him to leave because he was intoxicated or because of bad behaviour. "No," he replied. He said he was "not at all" intoxicated. The inquest continues.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Crooked NSW cops in desperate coverup attempt

AN UNPRECEDENTED attempt by the NSW Crime Commission's to silence a public inquiry into its internal affairs by a corruption watchdog has cost NSW taxpayers more than $386,000.

Since last year, the Police Integrity Commission has been investigating the way the NSW Crime Commission has been confiscating criminal proceeds and carving up legal fees for both itself and solicitors representing commission targets.

Public hearings were scheduled to begin on Monday, but the PIC announced yesterday that the hearings would be postponed for a second time, until July.

Its investigation, dubbed Operation Winjana, has focused on the actions of a senior Crime Commission financial analyst, Lou Novakovic, and his girlfriend, Salina Sadiq, a criminal defence lawyer who has represented commission witnesses.

But the investigation has been bitterly contested by the Crime Commission boss, Phillip Bradley. After repeated attempts behind closed doors to stop the inquiry failed, Mr Bradley unsuccessfully sued the PIC in the NSW Supreme Court, alleging it had overstepped its powers.

In all, Mr Bradley spent $174,768.28 on lawyers to fight the court action, according to figures released by the Premier's office this week. The PIC, in defending itself, spent another $211,649.

In May Justice Stephen Rothman dismissed the litigation and the acting PIC head, Jerrold Cripps, QC, announced that the public hearings would go ahead.

In one of his judgments, Justice Rothman said: "No doubt these issues can be resolved, as they once were, by referring disputes between statutory bodies to the Solicitor-General."

In February a Herald investigation revealed the Crime Commission had been sharing the proceeds of crime with known criminals, cutting deals that allow them to walk away with millions of dollars.

Instead of litigating in open court to confiscate all proceeds of crime, the commission has been settling most cases by consent for a lesser amount and often before a defendant appears on a criminal charge. For senior underworld figures, it has become a cost of doing business.

The PIC will hear evidence about whether Mr Novakovic "or any other person associated with him is or has been involved in criminal activity or serious misconduct", the PIC has said.

Winjana will also "examine the practices and procedures of the NSW Crime Commission in the conduct of actions under the Criminal Assets Recovery Act 1990".


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Vic police chief faces new probe on police statistics

THE Ombudsman is investigating why former Victorian Police Commissioner Simon Overland and Victoria Police refused to release two independent reports on violent crime and public safety only days before last year's cliff-hanger state election.

The reports called for reforms that were at odds with the policies of the then-Brumby Labor government and were not supported by Mr Overland, the then-chief commissioner, and his leadership team, The Australian reports.

This investigation is the second to probe the links between senior ranks of Victoria Police and the Brumby government before the November 27 Victorian election. Last week, a damning report from Ombudsman George Brouwer criticised Mr Overland over the release of questionable crime figures in the lead-up to that election. That report allegedly prompted Police Minister Peter Ryan to persuade Mr Overland to resign.

However, The Australian understands that a second Ombudsman's inquiry is currently under way into whether political considerations influenced decisions by police command before the state election.

The inquiry is believed to be looking at why Victoria Police reneged on a promise made to the Seven Network to provide two independent consultants' reports into drug and street crime in Melbourne's CBD in the week before the election.

One of the reports, Safer Victoria, written in 2009 by PricewaterhouseCoopers, recommended that a single Office of Public Safety be set up to promote a whole-of-government approach to tackling the rising incidence of crimes such as assaults, property damage and robbery. The report's findings were not backed by either the government or police.

Victoria Police claimed the findings of the Safer Victoria report were not endorsed by the force and that, if released, were "likely to be confused and misrepresented as the established views of Victoria Police and therefore mislead the public".

Police said the findings of the other report, SafeStreets, were also not endorsed by the force and that, if released, would "injure the public interest because it would promote pointless and capricious debate".

Seven's initial attempt in May last year to acquire the documents under Freedom of Information was denied when the reports were wrongly declared to be cabinet-in-confidence.

Seven appealed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and, in November, Victoria Police lawyers finally agreed to provide the documents in the week before the November 27 election.

During that week, Victoria Police refused to release the documents as promised, saying there were stakeholders who still needed to be informed.

Mr Overland has strongly denied the delay in the release of the reports was politically motivated.

It is understood the Ombudsman agreed to conduct a formal investigation into the matter after a complaint lodged by Seven.

A spokeswoman for Ombudsman Victoria declined to comment yesterday. The FOI editor for the Seven Network, Michael McKinnon, also declined to comment.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Disgusting South Australian cop

An ex-community constable has been jailed after previously pleading guilty to 14 sex crimes against children in the 1970s and 1980s. Allan Gollan, 62, today was sentenced to 18 years in prison by a Judge in the Adelaide District Court.

Among the charges are two counts of gross indecency, three counts of indecent assault, carnal knowledge and possessing child pornography. Gollan was suspended from duty after 15 years when found in possession of the pornography in 2009.

The Adelaide District Court was told one of Gollan's victims was petrified at the sound of his voice and horrified at being left alone with him. Other victims told of being unable to trust men and being unable to have lasting relationships.

Judge Kevin Nicholson said Gollan had a dark past, terrorising his victims, one who was his own stepdaughter. "Your behaviour involved the predatory manipulation of your relationships with the children, your power of authority over them and their youthful naivety and fear," he said.

Judge Nicholson said Gollan was sexually abused as a child by his stepfather and had suffered physical and racial abuse during his upbringing. "There is no doubt you've suffered your fair share of hardship, abuse, depravation and tragedy," the judge said.

The court was told Gollan had alcohol problems, particularly during what he classified as his 'dark years' in the 1970s and 80s, but had been sober since the early 1990s.

Judge Nicholson said he accepted Gollan was a completely different person from the man who committed the offences but said child pornography found on his computer recently was of concern when considering his rehabilitation prospects.

"Mr Gollan, I accept you have acknowledged the sexual abuse you committed and you are genuinely sorry," he said. He told Gollan he was mindful that any period of imprisonment was "likely to consume many, possibly all, of the years you have remaining". "On the other hand, you've been able to enjoy the best part of your life living freely in the community."

Judge Nicholson said he considered imposing a suspended sentence, given Gollan's attempts to change his life and the important role he played in caring for his wife, who suffered from various physical and mental conditions. But he said the seriousness of the offences meant there would be little chance for a suspended sentence.

He set a non-parole term of 10 years and six months, backdated to when Gollan was taken into custody.

His stepdaughter appeared outside court and consented to speaking with 7News on her relief at his sentence. "I was actually thinking he’d get a lot less than he did, so I’m actually very happy," she said. "More importantly I’m just glad it’s all over with for now... For me, it’s the end, may his nightmare begin now and he can have what we had, which was hell."

She said she didn't forgive him, and his apologies in court meant nothing to her. "He’s had years to apologise to me, years... Only now that he’s got caught with his hand in the pot that he wants to say he’s sorry, it’s not worth anything to me," she said. "I hate him, not only for what he did to me, but for the ongoing effects that still happen now – that’s what I hate. I hate that I can’t function within my family, I have no external family. He took everything."

Two Queensland cops face sack for unauthorised use of police computers

TOP brass are poised to sack two cops for accessing the details of private citizens from the police database. While details remain sketchy, the nature of the offences - which are unrelated - is serious enough for the careers of both policemen to be put on hold.

The first involves a sergeant, 52, from the Far North policing region, which takes in Cairns and Cape York. Police said in a statement that he "inappropriately accessed information on the QPS computer system without authorisation".

The second involves a constable, 28, from the Northern policing region, which takes in Townsville and Mt Isa. "The stand down action relates to allegations of domestic violence and misuse of the QPS computer system," police said.

The Queensland Police Service computer database, Q-Prime, stores the criminal and private details of Queenslanders and it is an offence for an officer to access information without a valid work-related reason.

Ethical Standards Command investigated both incidents and the police executive decided on the current disciplinary actions. The officers have the right to fight the actions taken against them.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gone at last

Victoria's chief police commissioner Simon Overland says he resigned because the recent controversies engulfing the force made it counterproductive for him to continue. Mr Overland's resignation came hours after the release of a Victorian ombudsman's report which found he was solely responsible for releasing misleading and inconsistent crime statistics before the last state election.

But he told a press conference the report was not the straw that broke the camel's back, rather, his resignation was a culmination of months of controversy that was distracting for the organisation. "I now regrettably find myself in a position where I believe it's in the best interests of Victoria and Victoria Police that I leave," Mr Overland told reporters on Thursday.

"I've always sought to act in the best interests of the organisation in an honourable way and I believe this is the appropriate thing to do.

"There's been a lot of distractions in the last little while and it seems to me they are unlikely to abate. "It got to a position where my continuing in the role was counterproductive to the best interests of the organisation."

Mr Overland was supported by a contingent of senior police and other staff members during the press conference at the Victoria Police Centre. Some of his support staff were in tears. He said he was not pressured to resign by the government.

About an hour earlier, the news that he would be resigning broke at a press conference with Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan.

Mr Ryan said he rang Mr Overland on Wednesday night and expressed his concerns over the ombudsman's report. When pressed on whether he asked or told Mr Overland to resign, Mr Ryan refused to reveal the details of their conversation. "We talked about the content of the report, he then indicated his intention to resign and I indicated the government's preparedness to accept that resignation," he said.

Mr Overland has for months insisted he intended to serve out his contract, which was due to expire in less than three years.

The resignation of Mr Overland comes after months of pressure on the police chief commissioner. Although standing by Mr Overland, the state government had ordered an investigation into senior command of Victoria Police after Mr Overland forced out his deputy Sir Ken Jones.

Mr Overland ordered Sir Ken to leave Victoria Police three months before he intended to quit, for reasons that were never fully explained. It was also confirmed that after a complaint from Mr Overland and others the state's police watchdog, the Office of Police Integrity, had been tapping Sir Ken's phones.

Mr Baillieu said there would be an appropriate selection process before the next chief commissioner was appointed and consultants would be used. When asked whether Sir Ken would be in the running, Mr Baillieu replied: "Well the process will be available to anybody who seeks to apply and we wouldn't be seeking to make any comment about that."

Mr Baillieu said the government wanted to appoint a new chief commissioner as soon as possible.

Deputy commissioner Ken Lay will be acting chief commissioner. Mr Overland's resignation officially takes effect from July 1, but he will go on leave at the end of the working day on Thursday.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

AFP in the spotlight again

Firming up the impression of a rogue agency

AUSTRALIAN Federal Police boss Tony Negus took his secretary on a taxpayer-funded business-class trip to Singapore and India last year on official police business.

The trip to Singapore last July was to attend a meeting of Asia Pacific Group on money laundering. The pair then went on to India for the opening of the AFP's New Delhi office.

The 31-year-old Tamerra Mackell also travelled with Mr Negus on an official visit to Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia in February this year.

It is unusual for secretaries such as Ms Mackell to travel overseas for work. The executive assistant to Mr Negus' predecessor, Mick Keelty, did not often travel with him.

Mr Keelty usually travelled with a "staff officer" - a uniformed AFP officer who is a member of the Senior Executive Service, the highest ranks of the public service.

Mr Keelty's executive assistant did sometimes accompany her husband Peter McEwan, who was Mr Keelty's staff officer.

The AFP said in a statement that, up until January 2011, the commissioner did not have an executive officer or staff officer and Mr Negus had taken his executive assistant to Singapore and India to provide "an administrative support role".

Ms Mackell is a civilian employee, an unsworn AFP worker.

She joined the AFP in January 2008 as executive assistant to the manager of specialist groups and was promoted to work as the commissioner's secretary when he began in the role in September 2009.

As executive assistant to the commissioner, Ms Mackell manages the office environment and administration and liaises with other senior police, the AFP said.

Asked if Ms Mackell had any formal academic qualifications for her role as executive assistant, an AFP spokeswoman said she had completed a certificate in business administration at a business college.

Despite her lack of formal qualifications, Ms Mackell was given a promotion in January to the newly created - and more senior position - of executive officer. In her new role she is charged with delivering "high-level executive support".

The AFP said Ms Mackell's new position of executive officer was created "to provide support to" the 47-year-old commissioner, such as amending speeches when he is travelling overseas.

Lost in the reshuffle was the job of chief of staff, who had previously travelled with the commissioner....

Dr Michael Kennedy, head of the policing program at the University of Western Sydney, said there were few controls on who could accompany the federal police commissioner overseas. "The bottom line is that any federal police commissioner can sign a blank cheque. In NSW, there are so many controls on what the commissioner does that he could not take an executive assistant overseas."


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

NSW cops quick to get it wrong

Listening is too hard for them

It's not often that a magistrate apologises to a person appearing before them. But that's what happened to Musa Konneh last year. "The magistrate said: 'This boy is not meant to be here, why is he here?' The magistrate even said 'sorry' to me," the 19-year-old migrant from Sierra Leone recalled.

In the 12 hours before he appeared before court Mr Konneh had been falsely arrested, handcuffed, strip searched and spent a night in the police cells. Two officers knocked on his door at 9.30pm on a Saturday night and arrested him, insisting he had breached his bail conditions by not reporting to police. He tried to explain they were wrong, but to no avail.

In fact, Mr Konneh was no longer on bail, and his case - for allegedly riding on the train without a ticket - had been dismissed in the Children's Court four days earlier. While the court had a record of the decision, the police computer system, which is meant to receive information from the courts system Justicelink, had not been updated.

A class action was filed in the Supreme Court yesterday against the NSW government over this and other detentions. Mr Konneh is the first young person to join it. The case, launched jointly by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, will be open to other young people detained for a breach of bail conditions that were no longer in place at the time of the detention.

The case would seek to argue that it was "not reasonable" for police to rely on their COPS database when arresting young people for a breach of bail because the problem had been known for years, said Maurice Blackburn's NSW managing principal, Ben Slade. He said there could be at least 200 young people falsely arrested in similar conditions.

Fairfax reported in December that 22 people had been paid $2.7 million in compensation for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment because of the computer problem. The NSW Ombudsman last year reported three cases of Aboriginal men from Kempsey arrested for an alleged breach of bail conditions that were no longer in place.

Mr Slade said police were targeting "vulnerable young people" for the enforcement of bail conditions and Aboriginal children were over-represented among those falsely arrested. Police should only deprive children of their liberty as a last resort, he said.

He called on the government to fix the problem and "take responsibility for this wrongful conduct … and apologise to them and compensate them".

Gutless NSW cops refuse to chase bandits

NIGHTCLUB baron Justin Hemmes had a gun put to his head during an armed robbery at one of his hotels last night. Hemmes was drinking at the recently purchased Excelsior Hotel in inner-city Surry Hills at 11pm when two men entered, armed with a screwdriver and gun and demanded cash.

A visibly shaken Hemmes told police at the scene that the men had a put a gun to his head before running out and jumping into a waiting car. "I had a gun put to my f**king head and when I chased them out, they jumped into a car and a guy shouted 'Go, go, go'," Mr Hemmes told officers.

Police from Surry Hills arrived as the bandits were making their escape from the scene. Sensing trouble, the men jumped into a black Audi station wagon before smashing into the parked police vehicle, forcing it out of the way and driving away at high speed.

It is believed that police did not give chase, instead choosing to secure the scene before circulating the area.

A clearly frustrated Hemmes was caught on camera arguing with police over why they failed to give chase. "You let them get away," Hemmes said to officers before asking whether it was for 'safety reasons'.

It is believed that the hold-up was the second robbery made by the men last night, after robbing the Rose of Australia Hotel in Erskineville fifteen minutes earlier.

Owned by Australia Hotels Association President, Scott Leach, the two men also threatened patrons before making off with a large amount of money.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The rot at Victoria police continues

Sounds like Overland is a dead man walking

A SENIOR Baillieu Government whistleblower has formally complained to the Ombudsman about the activities of Chief Commissioner Simon Overland. The Government figure has accused Mr Overland and the Office of Police Integrity of abusing their power in their pursuit of Deputy Commissioner Sir Ken Jones.

The whistleblower has given information to Ombudsman George Brouwer detailing the alleged roles of Mr Overland and the OPI in having Sir Ken's phone bugged.

Mr Brouwer is investigating whether there was improper collusion between Mr Overland and the OPI, allegedly resulting in the intrusive powers of the OPI being unleashed on Sir Ken and his family. The Ombudsman's office has secretly interviewed the Baillieu Government figure and is in the process of interviewing others to try to corroborate the allegations.

Victoria Police yesterday said it was not possible for Mr Overland to comment. "Any investigation by the OPI is a matter for them and it would be wrong for us to comment on it. The same applies to any investigation by the Ombudsman," a force spokesman said.

Asked about the Ombudsman's probe into the OPI, its director Michael Strong said he was satisfied that "every step taken in this investigation has been taken in good faith and on appropriate grounds".

A spokeswoman for Premier Ted Baillieu said it was inappropriate for the Government to comment on the Ombudsman's inquiry.

If the whistelblower's allegations proved correct the Ombudsman's findings, expected to be tabled in State Parliament, could provide the trigger for the Baillieu Government to replace Mr Overland.

Another potentially explosive Ombudsman's report into allegations senior Victoria Police officers were pressured to release favourable crime statistics in the lead-up to last year's state election, as a boost to the former Labor government, is also expected to provide more anti-Overland ammunition for the Baillieu Government.

The Herald Sun has revealed Sir Ken felt betrayed after allegedly becoming unwittingly caught in the middle of political dirty dealing. He was so concerned after meetings with Premier Ted Baillieu's right-hand man that he sought Police Association boss Greg Davies for advice.

Sen-Sgt Davies, who told Police Minister Peter Ryan about the meeting after Sir Ken raised concerns with him, said Sir Ken felt he was being used.

Mr Ryan yesterday said neither he nor Mr Baillieu were aware of the meeting between Baillieu adviser Michael Kapel and Sir Ken when it happened. The Premier defended Mr Kapel's action as a normal practice of government.


Monday, June 6, 2011

More police secrecy

OPI evidence on phone tapping will never be seen

THE evidence in an Office of Police Integrity affidavit understood to have been used to justify taps on the telephones of former Victorian deputy police commissioner Ken Jones and his wife will never be disclosed.

Senior lawyers told The Weekend Australian this meant career-threatening allegations lacking in substance and motivated by malice were easily "sexed up" to persuade a relatively junior judicial officer to permit telephone taps.

The inability of an oversight body in Victoria to independently test allegations in the secret affidavit material means those making the claims cannot be held accountable for exaggerating.

A former OPI officer has told how "speculative" and misleading innuendo would be dressed up as factual intelligence in affidavits presented to a member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to obtain telephone tap permission.

Senior Victorian lawyer Phillip Priest QC said a "public interest immunity" shield made it impossible for any person whose telephone was tapped to show that the supporting allegations were questionable, and to test whether there was ever any foundation for the tap.

The warrant that was granted when former assistant commissioner Noel Ashby's telephones and those of his wife and children were tapped by the OPI states he was suspected of "bribery and corruption".

But there were no bribery allegations made in subsequent public hearings and investigations. There were no charges of corruption after Mr Ashby's career and reputation had been destroyed.

Mr Priest said the reported tapping of the telephones of Sir Ken had "uncanny echoes" of the Ashby case. In a legal memorandum at the time, Mr Priest called the OPI's conduct corrupt.

"There should have been a judicial inquiry into the Ashby case," he said yesterday. "As a result of these most recent events, I think the strength of that call must surely gain momentum."

Mr Priest, who successfully defended Mr Ashby, said that with affidavits for telephone taps "the real problem is the potential for abuse, because nobody is able to get access to the material".

"There is a lack of accountability, and the secrecy creates the potential for the abuse," he said.

"They can put whatever they like in an affidavit and nobody else can ever see it -- there is nobody on the other side to question it.

"When we cross-examined one of the OPI officers about the allegations with Ashby, we heard there was no evidence of bribery, and the alleged corruption turned out to be an association with (police union chief) Paul Mullett.

"There needs to be much better oversight. The courts should have the power to look at the affidavits in support of warrants for telephone taps. Recent events have shown we need a royal commission or a judicial inquiry."

Queensland criminal lawyer Terry O'Gorman, who heads the Australian Council for Civil Liberties, said there were only 26 refusals out of more than 10,000 telephone tap applications granted to police and anti-corruption organisations across Australia in the past three years.

"Members of the AAT and judges are used to make respectable a regime where telephone taps are granted 99.9 per cent of the time," he said.

"These applications and the affidavits that support them are just taken for granted in situations where there is no judicial supervision and no contrary input, and this means nobody is watching what the police and the anti-corruption bodies are doing.

"It is very difficult to vet the affidavits when only one side is presented. Every time lawyers try to obtain the allegations, the police and prosecutors chime in unison 'public interest immunity'."

Mr O'Gorman described public interest immunity over telephone taps as "an effective veil they hide behind, and which too many judicial officers go along with".


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Victoria police rotting from the top down

THE moment law enforcement in Victoria became, in the words of Police Association head Greg Davies, the laughing stock of the nation, can be traced to a series of extraordinary events on a Friday afternoon four weeks ago.

The trail from that day has led investigators to ask whether law enforcement in Victoria is rotting from the head, mired in a swirl of cosy relationships, abuses of power and political vendettas -- a modern version of the dark days when the state's Special Branch spied and created dossiers on anyone deemed to be their enemy.

On May 6, police chief Simon Overland walked into the Collins Street headquarters of the Office of Police Integrity and asked the watchdog to investigate his deputy, Ken Jones.

Jones had been knighted for his services to British policing and was widely seen as a likely successor to Overland. But his chief is believed to have suspected Jones of leaking sensitive information to undermine his position.

Overland then went back to police headquarters and ordered Jones to leave the force immediately. It was an act that so stunned the Baillieu government it ordered Jack Rush QC to investigate "police command structure", which is a fig-leaf for investigating the behaviour of the Labor-appointed Chief Commissioner.

Yesterday, the plot thickened when the OPI confirmed reports that it was investigating "a high-ranking Victoria Police officer currently on leave" -- a clear reference to Jones.

At the same time, the Ombudsman, George Brouwer, is reported to have begun his own investigation into the OPI's use of power.

Victoria now faces the tragi-comedy of having its police watchdog investigating the former deputy police chief at the request of the police chief, while the Ombudsman is investigating the behaviour of the police watchdog.

Meanwhile, Overland -- the man who initiated the crisis -- is the subject of the government-commissioned investigation by Rush as well as an Ombudsman's investigation into whether crime figures were manipulated on the eve of last's year state election.

Davies says yesterday's confirmation of the OPI investigation into Jones was a tipping point for Victoria. "This would appear to be one of the greatest abuses of power in the history of this state," the union chief said.

"The most invasive investigative tool put into place because a person dared to criticise their boss. Well heaven forbid any Australian would ever do that. We'd all have our phones intercepted.

"We have now reached the stage where the government has to do something. We have got law and order in this state in disarray."

The Baillieu government is holding its tongue for now, but it is also dismayed by the events and is angry at reports the OPI has bugged the phones of at least one staff member of a ministerial office as part its investigation into Jones.

The OPI is also said to have bugged the phones of Jones and his wife, as well as friends and colleagues.

OPI director Michael Strong yesterday defended his organisation, saying he was satisfied the investigation was initiated in good faith and on appropriate grounds.

Strong also denied that the investigation was "initiated solely" by information provided by Overland, but he pointedly declined to quash media reports that Overland requested the probe into his deputy.

The secretive nature of the OPI means we may never know the truth, but the Jones affair has served only to fuel the public perception that the OPI and Overland have an uncomfortably close relationship.

The OPI has aggressively pursued several of Overland's enemies or rivals, including former police union boss Paul Mullett and former assistant police commissioner Noel Ashby.

The OPI bugged their phones as part of an investigation into police corruption, but rather than wait until claims against them could be tested in court, the OPI held a public hearing that played telephone intercepts revealing their disdain for Overland and former police chief Christine Nixon. The OPI's tactics effectively ended their police careers, but neither Ashby nor Mullett were convicted.

Conversely, the OPI has appeared reluctant to examine allegations against Overland.

When Overland admitted to passing on information from secret phone taps during the 2007 police corruption investigation, Operation Briars, the OPI conducted only a cursory examination behind closed doors before clearing the Chief Commissioner.

The OPI will be disbanded later this year after a string of failed prosecutions. Its reputation has been tainted by its refusal to stay above the fray of Victoria Police politics.

It has been quick to launch probes in relation to leaks that have embarrassed Overland and has used its powers aggressively to subpoena journalists into star chambers, tap their phones and place them under surveillance.

Overland confirmed last September that police had covertly investigated the phone records of journalists at the Herald Sun in relation to a story that caused short-term embarrassment to the force.

Mullett and Ashby have alleged that Overland is too cosy with the OPI and that he is mates with several of its senior staff.

Davies said yesterday that Overland was a close friend of OPI deputy director Paul Jevtovic, the OPI's acting director when the decision was made to investigate Jones.

Strong said yesterday that any implication the OPI had launched the Jones investigation because of a friendship between Overland and Jevtovic was "false and, in my opinion, defamatory".

But the OPI is on the nose with the Victorian public and Overland is aware of the criticism that he is too close to the agency. So why would Overland risk fuelling this perception by asking the OPI to probe his own deputy rather than bypassing the OPI and contacting either the Ombudsman or even Police Minister Peter Ryan?

Both Overland and the OPI will be able to justify their actions only if a serious crime is uncovered.

If not, then they will be seen as having needlessly derailed the so-far sparkling police career of a man who is reported to have been in contention to head the state's new anti-corruption body, which will replace the OPI.

Media reports about why Overland may have been unhappy with Jones have so far speculated about possible low-level alleged media leaks in relation to the death of Carl Williams and the handling of crime statistics.

If that is all there is, then the actions of Overland and the OPI will appear churlish and politically motivated.

It would almost certainly end Overland's career.

It would also further endorse the Bailleau's government's decision to axe the OPI, which has drifted from its central charter of investigating serious police corruption to a focus on solving embarrassing media leaks.

Victoria Police teaching standards labelled 'backward'

New police recruits are being taught by instructors with no practical on-the-job experience. Victoria Police has employed 13 unsworn educators - who have never been officers - to help train the additional 1700 cops promised by the State Government by November 2014. A further 11 are ex-police staff, including a ballet dancer with no legal qualifications, who is teaching law.

It is the first time non-sworn officers are being used to teach the next generation of cops. A maths and biology teacher, who has never been an officer, has also been employed. At least five recruits have complained about an unsworn educator not being fit to teach and sworn staff members have also made official objections, it was confirmed.

And now the unprecedented decision has been labelled "backward" and "wrong on every level" by the police union. It has complained to Chief Commissioner Simon Overland, saying the move is "offensive", "diminishes the profession" and will "inevitably lower standards".

"Academy instructors with no practical policing experience cannot possibly prepare our police recruits to be effective police professionals. The mere suggestion is offensive to police officers," Police Association assistant secretary Bruce McKenzie said.

"The legal, medical and other professions involve experienced practitioners teaching their new and inexperienced members. "Policing is no different and to do otherwise will inevitably see a lowering of the standards of future police practitioners. It also seriously diminishes our profession."

Recruits spend 33 weeks training at the Glen Waverley academy.

Victoria Police has denied it is a cost-cutting measure but conceded "unsworn members are paid less than sworn members". It also rejected allegations that unsworn educators had been unable to answer questions from recruits, but admitted sworn teachers are sitting in on classes led by unsworn instructors.