11th December 2022
As reported in the Herald Sun on the 8th of December 2022, Deputy Commissioner Neil Paterson allegedly apologised for an incident involving a Red Cross blood donation worker who was left deeply upset by an encounter with him. It is unclear to whom he apologised.
Simply put, this incident should never have occurred, and we doubt a remote apology will right the wrong. There is no indication that the Red Cross worker has accepted the apology, From the report, we would understand why she may not.
This incident occurred in a café area at Police headquarters where the Red Cross woman approached Paterson. She was there recruiting blood donors, doing her job.
Paterson berated the woman in an area where there would have been large volumes of police employees. As a Deputy Commissioner in Police Headquarters, the imbalance in the encounter was dramatic and for all to see.
Berating a worker rather than taking his concerns to Red Cross in a private capacity, and there are many avenues open to him to do that, is like confronting and berating a junior constable in the suburbs for the behaviour of VicPol during the Gobbo affair.
Mr Paterson has form in this area, having previously achieved comprehensive media coverage for his attack on a Police Sergeant nearing retirement because his religious beliefs oppose homosexuality.
The similarity in his previously exposed incident was also a substantial power imbalance between a Deputy Commissioner and a Sergeant.
Paterson is not employed to peddle his personal agenda. When he puts on his ‘Salute Blue’ suit, he becomes a servant of the Chief Commissioner and an example for other Police to emulate.
It is trite to say that Police, especially senior Police, must not allow bullying. With that, it is also obvious that they should not be bullies. The incidents, while against different people, appear to indicate bullying behaviours. CAA is not saying Paterson is a bully. This is a matter for others to determine, but CAA does say that the behaviours alleged reflect poorly on Paterson and Victoria Police
This incident has broader implications for Victoria Police and the Chief Commissioner.
He was putting the Chief Commissioner in an unenviable position where he is conflicted between supporting one of his most senior executives and his responsibility to maintain discipline and good order in Victoria Police.
Expressing support for Paterson could send a message to all Police that you can use your uniform to pursue personal values with impunity. And you can bet it would end badly if it took off.
This issue will not go away, particularly if other Police are disciplined for inappropriate comments. Their defence will be obvious.
The Chief Commissioner must formally admonish Paterson. This needs to be public, to rebuild the structural damage to VicPol Paterson has created.
Paterson’s behaviour is contrary to the neutrality expected of Police. The CAA believes this behaviour brings ‘the Force into disrepute’ and further feeds the community’s perceptions of the lack of impartiality by the Police, magnified substantially because of his rank.
Would this behaviouir be toleated by Poilce Command for a more junior ranked police memeber.
The way the laws currently stand, only IBAC can take a complaint against any Police Commissioner, and CAA has little confidence they would do anything, making police executives seemingly beyond reproach, creating a protected species.
The Chief Commissioner is, in reality, the last bastion of the enforcement of proper standards. We invite him, as a man of integrity, to publicly rebuke Paterson for his obviously poor behaviour.
We also call on the Government to amend legislation to empower the Chief Commissioner to instigate and investigate complaints against his Senior Officers if required, even if that investigation is overseen by IBAC.
4th December 2020
Some time ago, the CAA proposed a plan that made each Police Service Area (PSA) Manager Station Commander responsible for providing recognition for any Police Veterans who passed away in their area of responsibility.
The plan was proposed to the Chief Commissioner at a CAA, AGM pre-COVID.
This was linked to a proposed register to be kept for all Veterans. A statewide register devolved to the PSAs based on addresses. The veterans then could be identified should their welfare need attention—a notation made on the register that would enable a phone call or a visit at determined intervals to check welfare and keep them connected.
This would allow the register to be maintained if veterans changed addresses, were taken ill or were placed in care. The likelihood of a Veteran dying and none of his colleagues being aware is minimised.
Additionally, the local PSA manager was to contact and visit the Veteran’s family when they passed away. Apart from condolences, to seek permission to have a Police Officer of a rank, at least one above the deceased, read the Ode at the funeral.
As a mark of respect, the POLICE FLAG (not the Australian Flag) would be made available as a Pall for the coffin.
After the service, the Flag to be handed to the family as a mark of respect in perpetuity. ‘Buried under the Flag they served.’
The Chief Commissioner agreed to these proposals.
We were comfortable that he intended to implement them.
We accepted that during the COVID era, this proposal was unlikely to be followed through completely, but we incorrectly assumed that the components possible under COVID rules were implemented.
We have been shocked by the recent outpouring of dissatisfaction by Police Veterans and serving members on Social Media regarding the treatment of Veterans who recently passed away being routinely ignored by VicPol
The Chief Commissioner’s wishes were blatantly ignored.
We have then reviewed some other matters that the CAA has sought and gained support from the Chief Commissioner and have not been implemented.
- A proposition that all Veterans living in a PSA should be identified and recorded at a Station should their welfare need attention.
- A formal Police school program.
- A program where an executive Officer would formally thank all members on retirement for their service. (An initiative raised by the CCP).
- Recognising Police who were called up for National service. (This project is advancing, and the Dedication Service for their Honour Board is scheduled for February 2023 at the Police Chapel).
These issues are distinct from the myriad of other matters we have put to the Chief in submissions.
It is of very great concern that the Chief Commissioner can express a view, and the organisation fails to respect that view and follow through on it.
We have no reason to believe that the Chief Commissioner was not genuine in his views expressed. We are, however, very concerned that others have developed a strategy within the organisation to push back or ignore his wishes. We assume that is unless they agree with them.
A prime example of the cart leading the horse.
That is no way for an organisation like a Police Force to operate, and it raises the concern of what other matters approved by the Chief Commissioner the organisation has chosen to ignore.
The Chief Commissioner is the person who takes ultimate responsibility for the performance and function of the organisation, not those who seem to wish to undermine him.
The apparent evolution of insurrection within the upper echelons of Victoria Police undermines the Chief Commissioner’s authority; it is as embarrassing as it is wholly unacceptable.
This indicates that a flawed executive ‘Committee’ approach holds sway over the Chief Commissioner. Once that happens, the influence permeates down, meaning everybody can choose to follow or not follow the Chief’s directions. Discipline folds, and the ability to function as a cohesive body evaporates. This is not good for Policing or the community.
The first evidence of a problem we identified, was when we reflected on the Police COVID Response.
The Chief was at pains to prefer the issue of cautions instead of prosecutions for COVID breaches and took the unprecedented step of intervening personally to issue warnings.
That was until the quantity overwhelmed his capacity to deal with each case, and the principle of a caution was lost. Somebody or some people at a very high level in VicPol usurped the Chief Commissioner’s authority, and the control of the police response was overtaken by others, perhaps explaining the debacle that followed.
It now seems clear that some see the CCP as just a figurehead, and the faceless few are the power of the organisation.
The CAA is of the opinion that some seem to be using their position to remove the CCP to gain power for themselves.
This thinking is as flawed as the mechanism they have established to undermine the CCP. It will still be there if they succeed and can be just as easily used against them.
Senior police must unite in support of the Chief. And that is not just lip service, but function.
When senior officers do not display ethical leadership, this flows throughout the organisation, down to junior police.
The CAA is concerned there is a serious problem somewhere in the upper echelon.
Those responsible for undermining the Chief Commissioner should step aside or be removed from their positions; a purge would be justified and is, in our opinion, necessary.
16th November 2022
It is time for those who would decriminalise the use of illicit drugs to think again.
Just when you thought it could not get any worse, a new drug, known as Flakka, has hit the streets and, apparently, is doing the rounds in the Dandenong Area.
And there is a suggestion that first responders have been told not to talk about it. Unfortunately, that strategy will not make it go away.
Flakka use will put at serious risk police, ambulance personnel, health workers and other emergency services people who have to deal with the users.
Not only will the users of Flakka be put at severe risk, but any member of the general public or family members of a user whom they happen to come across when under the influence.
More than likely, it does not hurt the proponents of legalising illicit drugs or those who stand to benefit. The ‘who’ is an interesting proposition and I will expand on this later in this article.
This drug had been prolific in the USA; however, the US had curtailed the drug substantially by addressing the precursors, ‘Bath salts’ or ‘Condy’s Crystals.’
Now it is popping up elsewhere, including OZ. https://www.who.com.au/flakka-the-new-zombie-drug-taking-over-australia
Known as Flakka or Zombie and a few other names, this stuff is really scary, and understanding the potential consequences an imperative.
Before we get into the deep concerns that the CAA has about this drug, it is worth pausing to consider what it does.
The following consequences have been reported in Flakka users by RN.com AMN Health Care Education Services at https://www.rn.com/headlines-in-health/flakka-zombie-drug/.
- “Immediate effects of euphoria, feelings of invulnerability, extreme stimulation, and a loss of inhibitions
Increased heart rate or irregular heart rate, increased blood pressure and increased potential for heart attack or stroke
• Increased body temperature, increased perspiration, and increased potential for dehydration
• Respiratory distress or renal failure
• Muscle spasms, tremors, and seizures
• Significant brain swelling may occur in some
• Issues with insomnia and a loss of appetite
• Increased anxiety, panic attacks, aggressive behaviour, self-mutilation, and suicidality
• Psychosis (experiencing hallucinations and or delusions) and severe delirium
o Delirium occurring as a result of Flakka may initially be hallucinations, hyperactivity, confusion, and disorientation; however, some people also develop a hypoactive delirium, often referred to as a “zombie-like state,” where the person is catatonic, not responsive, and may be hallucinating, delusional, or significantly confused
• Overdose and death
• Marked neurological damage in chronic users.”
Critically, given what is known about this drug and what the Government is doing about it (as far as we can determine very little), somebody must be held accountable.
If a group of volunteers can find this issue, surely there must be detailed plans and policies from the highly paid bureaucrats and politicians who are responsible for community health and safety. Where are they?
The CAA has very grave concerns about a number of aspects of this drug which has far wider ramifications. Sadly, these concerns do not appear to be widespread within the Government.
CAA understands that, to a degree, we are relying on conjecture and inferences, but that is what the early components of any good investigation may encounter.
A thorough investigation is needed, coupled with a swift intervention strategy.
Coupled with the limited intelligence we can gather, it appears those who are responsible for thwarting this scourge are very clearly ‘asleep at the wheel’, and that may not be just tardiness. The indicators are that there are criminal actions afoot sufficient to indicate a need for urgent and detailed investigation.
We know that the drug is simply manufactured from Condy’s Crystals, and there is a myriad of lawful uses for this product, such as a bath for aching feet, water sanitisation, as an antibiotic and other applications throughout industry.
This, in part, makes the humble crystals a harlequin drug of sorts.
Another drug with similar and sometimes more extreme outcomes than Flakka is Spice. in the UK, Black Mamba originated in Africa but is now widespread across the globe and the mother of all bad drugs Krokodil widespread in Russia, with some suggestions it has moved elsewhere as well.
Krokodil has such shocking side effects we will not publish available photos as they are too grotesque. This drug effectively dissolves the flesh surrounding injections sights, with large pieces of flesh litereally dropping off the addict.
It seems most of the addicts of these drugs have only a life expectancy of two years at most.
All these drugs have two things in common, they can be manufactured from legal everyday products, and their use is catastrophic. One drug, Spice, was sold legally over the counter in the UK for quite a period until it was discovered the harmless pick-me-up had serious capabilities.
Because these drugs are predominantly used overseas, it would be naivety in the extreme to dismiss the issue, as it won’t come here. That was probably the view when Flakka first appeared elsewhere.
From the street, it is alleged that Flakka has piqued the interest of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs’ (OMCGs).
OMCGs, some officials and politicians reassuringly claim, are under control in Victoria by the Victorian version of Anti Association Laws used to manage these criminal gangs interstate.
The Victorian version has so many loopholes that, no matter what we are told, OMCG members have flocked to Victoria because the laws here are ineffective. We understand OMCGs see Victoria as the place to do business. That alone tells the efficacy of the Victorian Legislation.
The CAA asks where the proof is that the Criminal Organisations Control Act 2012 works.
A common denominator for this seismic shift of criminality is the Anti Association Laws legislated and enforced in all the other States that clearly work.
It has been well-publicised that the Victorian Government has refused to introduce similar Anti Association Legislation, https://www.heraldsun.com.au/truecrimeaustralia/police-courts-victoria/victoria-police-repeatedly-pushed-government-to-fix-antibikie-laws/ and we note that some of the more political appointments within Victoria Police are supporting the Government’s claims that the current legislation is sufficient.
If that is so, perhaps an explanation of the OMCG influx into Victoria could be offered. The CAA suspects that this influx has bought Flakka with it.
Intelligence from the street is that the OMCGs control Flakka. That is interesting because why would the Government not be prepared to step in and take action against the OMCGs and the drug?
Perhaps it is the money trail.
Flakka will generate huge incomes for the OMCGs, and we have already seen OMGs are intricately entwined with some Unions and, by extension, the Government.
Is this why there are no effective Anti-Association Laws here and resistance to strengthen them?
One wonders where the money trail leads.
The CAA is strongly advocating for a swift response but suspects there are too many with too much to gain for this to happen.
Moreover, what of the Safe Injecting rooms? Will they accept or reject Flakka addicts with all their risks or shunt them out into the community like other addicts that misbehave?
Victorians deserve better.
29th October 2022 First Published 9th Feb 2016
‘It was claimed by Victoria Police that the G-Tag proposal submitted in 2016 was assessed and piloted, however, the pilot was not of this proposal but a proposal with similarities that seemed suspiciously like a cover for a feasibility assessment for a commercial venture.
The G-tag has a far wider application, and the pilot did not facilitate testing of the concept.
Police at the time did not have the capacity to grasp the concept and to their discredit never bothered to check with the authors for clarity.
The current administration of VicPol seems more adroit than past administrations, and we hope for the benefit of all Victorians that they seriously consider this proposal.’
– The G-Tag
Save Lives Reduce crime Cost positive and Make Victoria a leader as an innovative State.
For many people, their car is their most important and valued asset, and to have it stolen is devastating. Unfortunately, motor cars, whether stolen or not, are also commonly associated with crimes including hit-run, robbery, drugs, rape, murder, domestic violence and now Terrorism.
The relatively new experience of motor vehicles being used as a weapon either against Police or as a weapon of mass destruction, terror-related or not, is a recent phenomenon. However, the introduction of this new level of violence In the West has brought a new urgency to the G-Tag.
The G-Tag, when fully implemented, is the only stratagem that will stop vehicles from being used as weapons.
The Bourke Street massacre should be justification alone for introducing the G-Tag. Unless you live under a rock, we know that it will only be a matter of time before we experience the devastation of truck or car bombs, as is all too common elsewhere in the world.
The multiple killings, countless injuries, millions of dollars of theft and massive damage is caused because current legislation is focused exclusively on the driver, not the vehicle. Until that changes, the vehicles available to drivers will continue to wreak havoc.
The most creative solution dreamed up thus far by Government and Police in Melbourne is strategically placed bollards and reinforced concrete planters. A little underwhelming. They will create safe areas (but only from cars). Still, the vulnerability of people will then be focused on the areas unable to be protected, including every intersection in Melbourne at peak pedestrian times when pedestrians in large numbers cross are exposed.
There were 4,567,314 vehicles (ABS Data and includes all vehicles) Registered in Victoria in 2015 – a huge and valuable state asset that needs to be protected.
The traditional view is the risks posed by the motor car should be managed by legislation focusing on the driver. Unfortunately, the success of this approach is problematic at best, with very limited success.
‘The best way to reduce any crime is to increase in the perpetrators’ mind the likelihood that they will get caught – penalties in themselves have limited impact because the perpetrator does not commit the act to get caught and never expects to get caught.
When the probability of being caught fails to dissuade, we need the ability to intervene to minimise the impact of the behaviour.
Authorities (Police) should be able to safely slow down or stop particular vehicles in the interests of public safety and/or law enforcement,’
Without diminishing the current Law and Order response, there is a need to think through and discuss alternatives – that alternative is the vehicle.
GPS tracking is widely used in the community; the devices record and re-transmit their own location to a satellite-based global positioning system. These re-transmitted signals allow the identification of the vehicle, location, and route it has and is taking. It also communicates the vehicles speed.
That route can be recorded for days or weeks, and capable of identifying which vehicle was driven in a particular location at a previous time. This ability will allow Police to identify the vehicle used in a crime. As important as the current location of the vehicle, is the historical routes the vehicle has taken, which perhaps has more investigative value.
An example, and there are many, would be a drive-by shooting in the early hours. Witnesses can usually supply the time of the shots; with a G-Tag, the Police could identify which vehicles were driven in that location at the time given.
Central to this proposal will be the fitting of tracking devices to every vehicle. Although this forms part of the first stage of this proposal, it needs to be seen through the prism of advantages to the community, a safety and Crime Prevention/Minimisation strategy, albeit that an economic case may be produced for the system raising alternative revenue streams for the Government, a user pays system for registration. The latter is the most equitable method of raising revenue.
Setting the case for part one of this proposal – the G-Tag
The advantages of developing a GPS locating system, or G-Tag, for the entire Victorian road fleet will be no small feat; however, the return will be enormous.
Theft of Motor vehicles and machinery –
With a G-Tag, stolen vehicles can be located quickly; the focus is on the property, not the perpetrator, which will serendipitously lead to perpetrators being detected rapidly. This will lead to a reduction in insurance costs. This would also reduce the demand for Police time and assist in arresting perpetrators.
G-Tags will influence the perpetrators knowing the chances of getting caught have escalated and may dissuade many would-be offenders.
In Australia, 49 vehicles are stolen and processed for scrap metal a week and one in four cars stolen are never recovered – $103 Million estimated value of cars never recovered. In addition, there are estimated to be 5 million cars on Australian roads that do not have immobilising technology. (Source -National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council.).
In Victoria, 14366 vehicle thefts were reported according to VicPol statistics – in 2014. In 2015 that number increased to 17090, an increase of 19%. The National average of vehicles not recovered is 31% (This figure could be substantially higher when including vehicles recovered damaged beyond repair – burnt out etc.) so extrapolating those figures to Victoria, over 5000 vehicles disappear every year, or nearly 100 every week.
What the statistics do not show is the hardship caused and the danger posed to the community
Community safety – a G-Tag will assist
- Victims of Domestic violence-. They can be better protected by tagging perpetrators’ vehicles in the G-Tag system to warn Police of the perpetrator heading toward the victim. In addition, using postcodes to quarantine victims will enable Police to intervene when postcode boundaries are crossed by perpetrators breaching a Family Violence Order—alerting Police to reduce the risk to the victim.
- Missing Persons-. G-Tags can locate vehicles of missing persons before self-harm. Suicidal victims are generally found after their demise when the family have contacted Police over concerns, but Police driving around searching every nook and cranny has historically been demonstrated as ineffective and usually does not end in locating the individual before it is too late.
G-Tags will have the ability to save lives with the chance of getting professional help to desperate people.
Rural application- The application in Rural and remote Victoria is very sound; consider being able to locate a tractor on a large remote property or a driver overdue to destinations, particularly in times of natural disaster. This will also reduce the number of unnecessary searches.
The applications of G-Tag technology can be extended to include watercraft and recreational vehicles.
Technology instead of human resources. The thousands of man-hours expended by emergency services, particularly Police, can be dramatically reduced in multiple circumstances by the G-Tag Policing will become more efficient and effective, reducing pressure on Police resources.
Criminal activity – Terrorism Investigations would have the advantage of monitoring vehicles with G-Tags without intrusion to better understand the risks posed by suspects.
The use of vehicles as a weapon in Terrorism is commonplace in the current war zones. It is likely to appear in Australia at some stage and being prepared will save lives.
- Criminal Behaviour –There is a current spate of home invasions where perpetrators physically confront victims in their homes by forced entry to gain access to keys to steal high-end motor vehicles. This type of activity (home invasion) is on the rise; there is a substantial risk of serious harm, if not the death of a victim. The ability to track these vehicles by G-Tag and immobilise them is very attractive to the victims and Police.
- Illicit Drugs must be transported in vehicles at some stage. Access to G-Tag technology will provide invaluable assistance in managing the importation and trafficking of drugs.
- Hoon drivers –can be monitored and removed from our roads. Known hoons’ vehicles can be tagged in the G-Tag system, and an alarm indicating when like tagged vehicles are identified by the system to be congregating can give Police the opportunity to intervene before the dangers escalate.
- Police Pursuits – This technology virtually eliminates the need for pursuits, and G-Tag disabling the car by G-Tag reduces risk to the Community, the Police and even the offender.
- Emergency vehicles – can easily and reliably be located and managed when civil emergencies occur. E.g. incident managers could recognise the precise locations of fire appliances during bushfire outbreaks to direct them to where they are most needed – or away from impending danger.
- Arial surveillance – Currently undertaken by the Police Airwing, there are limitations with availability and response times. The G-Tag will not replace the need for Arial Surveillance as a Policing tool. Still, the G-Tag will significantly enhance the effectiveness of the Air Wing, reducing operating costs.
- Legal implications – The data recorded in the G-Tag system has evidentiary value, as do E-Tags and Security Cameras. The potential for the improved data available from G-Tags will provide data of strong evidentiary value for Prosecution and Defence in equal benefit, further improving our judicial system.
- Revenue streams
The advantage of this system is it would allow the Government to use this mechanism to charge registrations on a user-pay basis, the most equitable mechanism. In addition, implementing part two of this proposal would eliminate the need for enforcement of recalcitrant individuals by placing the vehicle in ‘limp home’ mode until the financial liabilities are met. This capacity could also be extended to other civil liabilities related to traffic.
Setting the case for Part 2 of this proposal using G-Tag.
The first part of this proposal using converted E-Tag’s will only reach a percentage of the Victorian fleet unless a case can be presented for voluntary take-up of G-Tags based on the E-Tag system, although not totally limiting will reduce the overall potential of the program. However, the advantage of converting E-Tags to G-Tags will ensure a rapid introduction to the program.
Part 2 introduces more sophisticated G-Tags (technology is currently available) that are hard-wired into the vehicle’s electronics and fitted where they cannot be easily removed or interfered with. This technology adds a new layer where the vehicle’s electronics can be activated remotely to put the vehicle into limp home mode (reducing its top speed to 80KPH) before activating the engine immobiliser to halt the vehicle. The only limitations will be that certain vehicles do not have the limp home mode and would be stopped at a safe place or shut down when stationary.
The upgraded G-Tags would need to be fitted to all new vehicles, pre-delivery (amending Vehicle Standards)and second-hand vehicles as part of the roadworthy process. In addition, a moratorium would be required to set a reasonable time that all vehicles must comply, similar to other safety initiatives, including seat belt introduction.
Stage 2 will allow Police to intervene to stop the commission or continuance of a crime, which is the primary role of the Police.
The issue of re-establishing the vehicle’s functionality when recovered, or is no longer a threat, is again a technical issue that should not prove insurmountable. If it can be switched off, it can be switched back on; it is just a matter of protocols.
The cost debate
There is a cost, but as this is an innovation, the technology development costs of G-Tag would be well offset by marketing the initiative interstate and overseas. In addition, a fee for service arrangement, assisting set up and a fee for intellectual property would generate substantial income.
Part of the development costs could be covered by the Insurance Industry and TAC, who both stand to gain considerably. In addition, there would be nominal cost recovery from the users in installing a device into the existing fleet – manufacturers would be required to fit the device pre-delivery on all new vehicles.
An offset to the toll operator’s contribution (modifying E-Tags)will be the income generated when tracking devices are fitted to the Victorian fleet to include the E-Tag function in the G-Tag, effectively the E-Tag would be redundant.
With savings achieved to the State economy, the overall cost will be well offset. In addition, recurring fees would be partly recovered by beneficiaries, namely Insurance companies, Toll operators, TAC and the user.
Car owners will have to bear some costs, subsidised for Welfare recipients, but the price should not be prohibitive, somewhere under $200.
The proposal to introduce a pay-as-you-use system for registration, third-party and comprehensive Insurance and fuel excise currently avoided by the increased uptake of Electric Vehicles will contribute to the setup and recurring cost of the system.
The system could, therefore, potentially protect innocent victims from financial hardship due to vehicle damage – Potentially, the initiative could be cost-positive.
Anybody who owns a smartphone or has a Satellite navigation device is acutely aware of the power and application of technology.
Currently advertised on the internet for $35 is a tracking device that can be attached to a vehicle and linked to a smartphone. The technology exists and is small and relatively cheap.
With the increasing sophistication of motor vehicles and their reliance on computers to manage their engines, an opportunity exists to intervene in a vehicle’s performance. A large part (and increasing) of the Victorian fleet are vehicles that have an inbuilt “Limp Home Mode” in their computer systems designed to protect the engine from further damage should a fault be detected
It is a matter of connecting the dots.
- If we can identify a vehicle using GPS locating technology by a G-Tag, we only need to develop a mechanism to access the vehicle’s computer via the G-Tag to activate the “Limp Home Mode” or the vehicle” Immobilisation technology”. A SIM card is the solution.
- By designing and fitting an aftermarket, G-Tag to attach to the vehicle’s electronics, the vehicle’s function can be remotely managed.
- The power supply for the G-Tag is then secured for the vehicle’s life.
- The simplest method to communicate with vehicle electronics is by a SIM card in the device using the mobile network to communicate with the car’s computer.
The Issue of Privacy
In the 1980s, a very vocal minority saw themselves as the keepers of our privacy, objecting to installing the eight CCTV cameras for a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Melbourne. They vocalised on the prying eyes and the abuse that would occur should the cameras not be removed immediately after the conference was finished- “It’s a Police State” was the group’s mantra.
Their plaintive cries are now somewhat humorous when we look around at the number of cameras that watch us daily, but there is no community concern as it has been demonstrated that they serve the greater good, and law-abiding citizens do not care if they are watched. Indeed, governments actively encourage more expansive use of CCTV in public places, and the take-up of private CCTV systems – including those monitoring public spaces – is impressive.
This initiative has a distinct advantage over CCTV cameras. The Cameras have a deterrent effect and assist with identifying perpetrators, but they cannot stop or prevent the continuation of a crime – the G-Tag can.
Anybody worried about the movement of their vehicle being monitored should realise there are over 5 million vehicles in Victoria, so nobody would have the time, the resources or the interest to monitor every vehicle – it will be enough just monitoring vehicles that are of particular interest- law-abiding citizens just hide in the crowd.
Furthermore, although not common knowledge, most high-end vehicles sold in recent years already have this technology and are used as part of the aftermarket service provided by the manufacturers as a mechanism to update electronics and identify the need for roadside assistance.
Effectively a reasonable percentage of the population drive around oblivious that their movements are being or are capable of being monitored by a third part.
Impact on Judicial processes.
Implementing this system will provide the Judiciary with an alternative to sentencing offenders (by regulating vehicle use), particularly for the less serious traffic infringements and criminal activity in some cases.
Currently, lives are ruined financially and otherwise by fines and driving restrictions that cause offenders to lose employment and the capacity to pay fines.
Unintended double jeopardy can ruin many young people’s lives. Correcting bad behaviour by bad outcomes lessens, and in certain circumstances destroys the chance of future compliance. Instead, in desperation, it can lead, particularly young people, towards crime and drugs to escape what they see as a hopeless situation from which they see no escape.
The G-Tag system can be used to manage the use of a vehicle to certain roads and/or times to allow Offenders to continue in employment, enabling them to pay the fines but still having their mobility curtailed to serve as a punishment.
We are not suggesting this facility become run-of-the-mill but for cases where a driver may exceed .05 after a reading shows residual alcohol or drugs in the low range. Or where breaches of Licence offences and registration matters can be managed without ruining lives.
The increase in penalty recovery would justify offenders retaining employment and avoid forcing people onto welfare and damaging the States productivity.
Recovery of Civil compliance fines could also be improved. For example, a vehicle disabled by G-Tag would rapidly encourage compliance.
There will need to be legislation that includes safeguards for privacy and safeguards against tampering with the system, either the physical equipment or any signal emitted.
The G-Tag is a proactive and novel proposal, but there is a myriad of far more radical ideas that once seemed farfetched that are now accepted as the mainstream norm, world wide web, television and the telephone!
We now accept security cameras as a way of life and the dreaded speed cameras as an acceptable inconvenience that serves the greater good.
It will take leadership and innovative thought to implement this proposal; however, the advantages to the community make it a worthwhile project.
This is an innovation that will save lives commensurate with its implementation,
- Minimise Police pursuits by number and duration.
- Enable the arrest of mobile criminals safely.
- Monitor criminal activity.
- Determine the identity of perpetrators when the crime was not witnessed, but a vehicle was involved (historical footage of the scene)
- Tag domestic violence perpetrators and protect victims with an electronic shield.
- Reducing a criminal’s ability to use a vehicle in committing a crime.
- Reducing criminals’ ability to burn stolen vehicles to hide DNA.
- Locate missing people intent on self-harm.
- Increase revenue through greater enforcement of civil compliance.
- Locate and save people in natural disasters.
- Reduce police resources in trying to locate missing persons.
“I have worked hard to own my car, and if it gets stolen, I would be very happy that it could be located and disabled as soon as it is reported (minimising damage to it). It would be a bonus that the low life that did it was caught.”
A view that the overwhelming majority of Victorians would share.
An additional attraction of this technology is that it will allow a user-pays system to be developed in lieu of registration and other taxes as a reliable and equitable mechanism to tax road users.
That VicPol and Government establish a working party to prepare the business case for this proposal, including the fiscal imperatives that will make this proposal not only practical but cost positive. An approach ANZPAA and Standards Australia should be considered as well as drafting legislation to establish a G-Tag Authority to develop the technology and design the model for the ongoing management and operation of the system.
Ivan W. Ray
Chief Executive Officer
Community Advocacy Alliance Inc
26th October 2022
In the latest strike in what can only be described as a media blitz, the IBAC Commissioner has again attempted to interpret the law.
The integrity entities are not only colour coding corruption (Grey), but now the texture is apparently relevant.
This is in addition to attempting to create new definitions for words.
In this latest attempt by the IBAC Commissioner to influence the way laws are managed, he put forward ‘Soft’ corruption as an apparent legal reality rather than a Commissioner’s wish to divert attention from the inability of IBAC to perform its function to avoid accountability for IBAC’s failures.
Since when does the texture or colour of a law determine or influence its application?
As part of the Commissioners media blitz, on October the 22nd, it was reported in the Herald Sun that he warned,
‘Victoria’s corruption watchdog has warned the centralisation of power around Premier Daniel Andrews’ private office has created an environment ripe for “soft corruption”.’
This tinkering around with how our Laws are supposed to work must stop.
- The Coate Inquiry’s ludicrous ‘Creeping Assumptions’ theory,
- IBAC’s and Ombudsman’s definition of ‘immersed’,
- The suggestions of ‘grey’ corruption,
- And now the IBAC Commissioners ‘soft’ corruption
We can only assume that Soft corruption must be akin to the Claytons Theory, famously described as – “the drink you have when you’re not having a drink”.
There is one common underlying explanation for these inane references – incompetence.
The apparent strategy is, ‘Whatever you do, shift the focus from your incompetence.’
Based on the observations proffered by our integrity organisations, we could therefore categorise other crimes into grey or soft as a pre-emptive justification for lack of effective prosecutions or the need even to address these breaches of the law.
Can you imagine people using terms like ‘grey’ assault, ‘immersed’ in a breach of an intervention order or ‘soft’ drink driving’? According to the integrity guardians, only corruption can be dealt with under these new nuances.
This nonsense needs to be walked back. Corruption is corruption, and it is not subject to colour or textural variations.
We believe this attempt to change the corruption landscape is part of IBAC’s flawed understanding of its role. IBAC is NOT a court. We note that this is the way IBAC identifies itself on its website:
The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) is Victoria’s agency responsible for preventing and exposing public sector corruption and police misconduct. Our jurisdiction covers state and local government, police, parliament and the judiciary.
This is clearly about preventing or exposing, not defining, determining or justifying. It appears IBAC is straying from its own stated purpose in attempting to justify not referring matters for prosecution.
Surprisingly, neither the Judiciary nor the Government has not pulled IBAC into line and reminded the Commissioner that IBAC is not a Judicial body.
This State’s failure to detect and prevent corruption is not served well by an IBAC intent on trying to become an adjunct to the legal system instead of an essential and independent part.
Instead of worrying about the hue or texture of the corruption is; how about detecting and referring perpetrators for prosecution?
Instead of asking for money, we, the community, would like to see some tangible results for the millions we already spend on what seems an increasingly out-of-touch IBAC.
23rd October 2022
Robert Redlich, please cut it out; you are embarrassing yourself and IBAC.
The IBAC Commissioner has recently taken to the media to argue a case for increased powers and funding for IBAC, inferring that the lack of these is the cause of their failures. They may well be contributors, but, just as with many other Government Officials, the mantra of ‘it’s not my/our fault’ is commonplace and the go-to defence to explain their failures.
When our integrity regulator will not take responsibility for maintaining the bar for integrity, it is little wonder nobody in Government will either.
That may well be the primary cause of IBAC’s failure.
Redlich’s media comments seemed like a thinly veiled crack at the Premier. We would remind the Commissioner that he did have the Premier in his’ cross hairs’, but he and the Ombudsman lifted the barrel as the shot was fired.
Being “Immersed” in the ‘Red Shirts’ artifice was the justification for no adverse finding against the Premier, and, with that, a new definition of the word was spawned.
If your Webster’s is not working for you, try your Funk and Wagnall.
It is time for you, Mr Redlich, and your Deputy to demonstrate true integrity and resign by example.
Things have not been too flash for you both in recent times.
Victoria’s Parliamentary Integrity and Oversight Committee released its report on the 6th of October 2022 relating to Public Examinations by IBAC. It can be argued that the report is a very significant slap down for Commissioner Redlich and Deputy Commissioner Wolf.
Both have sought to increase the frequency and availability of Public Examinations,’ Show Trials’, but they could not explain ‘unreasonable damage’, a concept central to the current justification for IBAC to conduct a public examination. A notion the average person would have no problem explaining.
“This is concerning to the (Parliamentary) Committee, particularly considering that Commissioner Redlich and Deputy Commissioner Wolf were unable to provide a clear explanation in the public hearing of the concept of ‘unreasonable damage’ and how IBAC determines what is ‘unreasonable’,” – Herald Sun-6/10/22
With this finding, the Committee has nailed the major anomaly in our integrity processes: Bureaucrats with unfettered power and no accountability to the principles of justice.
There could be an argument that it is the Parliament’s responsibility to set out what ‘unreasonable damage’ might mean by way of a definition. Still, IBAC has been applying a definition (or is supposed to have been) to all public examinations to date. Hence, it is totally reasonable for the Committee to ask what their definition might be and be critical because they cannot explain something they have been supposed to be regularly doing.
This also reflects equally poorly on the Victorian Inspectorate, which oversees IBAC and is not performing its task well either.
While Redlich and Wolf seek to gain more power, the Committee is wise enough to halt their power grab.
The CAA strongly believes that Public Examinations are abhorrent and should only be used in the rarest of circumstances, and should never be used to replace competent investigative skills and processes.
The CAA is not challenging the Coercive Powers already available to IBAC, just the ‘show’ part.
The Committee has sent IBAC to the naughty corner to do some homework.
“The committee, which currently has a majority of Labor MPs, recommended legislative changes that require the watchdog to draw up new guidelines clearly spelling out how to decide when this damage is unfair to the person being interviewed.” – Herald Sun -6/10/22
This is a bit like getting the fox to design the security for a hen house, risking devious accesses being installed in the design.
There is, however, a relatively straightforward solution to this issue.
IBAC or any other agencies with these powers should be required to apply to a Court for an Order to examine a witness publicly.
Hearings would allow the witness to challenge the Integrity Body to justify its application.
Remove the power from the Bureaucrats who, by the Committee’s findings, do not understand a fundamental principle like “unreasonable damage”, something one would not even need a Law Degree to understand.
Without being legislated, it should be possible for the bureaucrats, who in this case are both lawyers, to understand the concept of ‘unreasonable’.
However, as they cannot or will not, the Courts must determine the answer for each case; simply legislating a definition will not work, as what may be unreasonable in one case may not be in another.
The Courts can place any restrictions on the examination that it sees serves the best interest of the Law and maintains natural justice for the witness.
We argue that the Public Examination ‘Show Trial’ process is used as punishment or more damming, where poor investigations fail.
Moreover, the chance of a fair trial may well be compromised by public examination where the rules of evidence vary from what a court will permit in a subsequent trial, influencing potential jurors; a risk we should not countenance.
The transparency argument often put forward is also flawed as the logical corollary would be for people before being charged with murder, or other crimes should be publicly examined – an illogical and unacceptable proposition.
There is an argument that ‘Show Trials’ may elicit more evidence against a witness, which has allegedly happened in a few cases.
Former Queensland Police Commissioner Terry Lewis was convicted for corruption in 1991, and Politician Eddie Obeid likewise in New South Wales in 2021. Cases separated by thirty years and in different States are hardly a ringing endorsement for the benefits of ‘Show Trials’ or their usefulness in reducing corruption.
The CAA is not convinced that, although the additional evidence in these two matters may have been important, their subsequent convictions would have hinged on this information alone. We would expect a compelling case would have existed anyway; if not, it should have been with competent investigation.
Fundamental maxims that underpin our legal system diametrically contradict public examinations, arguably the 21st-century version of medieval stocks; punishment without trial.
No less of a luminary than Benjamin Franklin, a founding father of the United States in 1785, said,
” That it is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer, is a Maxim that has been long and generally approved.”
Franklin was echoing Voltaire, pseudonym of François-Marie Arouet, recognised as one of the greatest French writers (circa)1749 who wrote.
“that generous Maxim, that ’tis much more Prudence to acquit two Persons, tho’ actually guilty, than to pass Sentence of Condemnation on one that is virtuous and innocent.”
And further, Sir William Blackstone, in his commentaries on the Laws of England in 1783, said,
“For the law holds that it is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer.”
The numbers quoted by these luminaries are immaterial; the Maxim they promote is the key.
The argument for this Maxim is compelling and has stood the test of time, and should not be set aside.
The public examination of witnesses by Corruption Agencies contradicts this Maxim.
Otto Von Bismarck, a former Chancellor of the German Reich, was generally attributed with laying the foundation for the first and second world wars and expressed the opposing view.
“it is better that ten innocent men suffer than one guilty man escape.”
Proponents of the Public examinations tend to favour the Bismarck philosophy, and we are strongly inclined to the Franklin/Voltaire/Blackstone view.
The issue of not using the Police Force and its skills and resources to tackle corruption (crime) in the public sector seems ludicrous and if there is a problem that renders the Police Force unsuitable, then fix the Police Force.
If corruption (crime) is suspected, no matter who it is in the public employ, then the Police need to be the primary investigators.
If the Police need the support of coercive powers currently available to IBAC, a minor amendment to the Major Crime (Investigative Powers) Act 2004. This would allow Police, on the authority of the Supreme Court, to defer to the Public Examiner, who has and can exercise coercive powers; there is a compelling argument that corruption is a Major crime and should fall within the purview of the Public Examiner.
There will always be a need for an independent Authority to manage corruption involving Police. But such an authority, not saddled with general crimes committed by those on the public payroll, would be more cost-effective.
Victoria’s Parliamentary Integrity and Oversight Committee’s deliberations were motivated by the untimely death of a witness subjected to a ‘Show Trial’. Mistakes like this are completely unjustifiable under any circumstances.
That the Committee exposed that IBAC management could not explain the simple concept of what ‘unreasonable damage’ might be, is damming and highlights a need to consider if IBAC is fit for purpose.
The lack of tangible outcomes is another issue to be addressed. The very last thing we need is empire-building in this space – results would be more appropriate.
20th October 2022
The Chief Commissioner, to his credit, has announced that the idea of using former Police and community volunteers to release more police from non-critical functions is being examined.
The Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) has long advocated for the reintroduction of a reserve of Police veterans to be used to free up operational members to put more police on the ground in the community.
There are thousands of police veterans in Victoria, and the wealth of their experience and knowledge is usually lost to the community. The ability of veterans to assist junior members and new supervisors at all levels should create improved work ethics for all police and help those at the coal face dealing with the rigours of policing.
Their experience and skills need to be harvested, not ignored.
What concerns us significantly is the inclination to consider community volunteers.
We acknowledge that many would be interested and capable but would have to refer almost everything to sworn officers, partly defeating the purpose.
Wayne Gatt of the Police Association is quoted in opposition to the idea,
“The fact remains when a member of the community attends a police station, odds are, they need to speak to a current serving police officer about a crime or current policing issue,”
He of course is fundamentally correct.
There are many issues that a member of the public would not want to discuss with a civilian volunteer as they would a Police employee who is not a sworn member.
A Police reserve member, however, with their experience, would, in many circumstances, be better equipped to deal with the counter and phone issues at a police station than a trainee or inexperienced police member.
Simply having somebody to answer phones and man the counter is not of great value if everything has to be referred on, that is inefficient.
Amendments to the Police Act will be required to cover and enable the reserve members, but the work to achieve this will reap the rewards and elevate VicPol as the innovative Police Force it once was.
A financial component for Veterans commensurate with their duties must be included because it will put a tangible value on their work and motivate the uptake of the initiative.
We are also concerned that the press article reports a police spokesperson said that,
“explorations are in their very early stages”, but it was looking at staffing models across the globe for inspiration.
Rather than looking at staffing models across the globe, there is a model already existing in Australia that can be easily adapted and will adequately serve the need. The program has been well tested, and modification would be easier and more cost-effective than starting from scratch.
We refer to the ADF SERCAT – TOTAL WORKFORCE MODEL
All the challenging work has already been done by the ADF, SERCAT project.
The key to this approach means that the Reserve members will not be an undue continual financial burden as they will be used as a reserve should.
In normal circumstances, there would be one level of engagement, but the capacity to have vastly improved surge capacity for the Force is a highly desirable attribute and well overdue. Again, this is a lesson well demonstrated with the COVID issue.
With the value of hindsight and an adequate Reserve capacity, we can reflect that VicPol could have responded to the Quarantine issue as the emergency demanded, and 800 lives may have been saved or the loss reduced.
This initiative by the Chief Commissioner is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address the failings of VicPol and provide the community with the level of service they are entitled to but are not receiving.
In at least the foreseeable future, the ability to recruit sufficient numbers of quality police is problematic, and rather than drop standards that will have future detrimental consequences, a reserve force is highly desirable and practical.
Every call unanswered, job not attended, or attendance delayed can be seen as a failure of VicPol.
That needs to be fixed.
Whether there is justification or not, it does not help the community if they are not told.
Communication is the key to service delivery; Reserve members could help address this need.
18th Octorber 2022
As we all watched the response of Police to COVID demonstrations, close observers detected an uncomfortable reality was dawning. Is this the new norm? The community was initially split on the mixed messages that the demonstrators were sending and the Politicians were promoting.
A high proportion of the community had volunteered to be vaccinated, probably encouraged by the fear campaign. However, they made their own decisions and many vaccinated people viewed the anti-vaxers as selfish individuals. People who were willing to put us all at risk. A concept embraced by many Politicians.
As the restrictions increased from what seemed reasonable to what can now be seen as draconian, the mood started to shift towards concern for our freedoms.
Today there is a different community mindset with anger entrenched against the removal of our liberties. The realisation they can be trashed so effortlessly by a fear campaign, Government incompetence or twisted ideology is frightening. In light of what we now know, it is incumbent on us to keep up pressure on Government to ensure the balance of liberty versus safety is not swayed by Government ideology and fear-mongering.
Police are at the forefront of implementing any Government’s lawful decree. Still, the Police must be protected by ensuring that the Government’s lawful policy is applied with discretion.
A basic tenet of the Office of Constable of Police is discretion and the binding of police to action must only be so in serious situations.
During COVID, the issue of the politicisation of Police has been elevated substantially. How was it that our police force, once respected as the best in the land, become so apparently politicised?
Denials of politicisation from those in authority abound, raising scepticism in the community fuelled by the failure to release the medical advice relied on to justify police responses.
What we do not know is what the objectives of the police response were.
Like all these things, time will eventually expose the truth, and that process has started.
On the same day as Vladimir Putin’s legacy, the Crimean Bridge, was attacked, there was a demonstration in Melbourne led by Bernie Finn MP that will blow up the denials of politicisation of Police and damage our leader’s legacy.
Bernie Finn, a long-serving politician, exposed the truth when he posted the following
Bernie Finn MP ·
“VicPol has copped plenty of criticism of recent times – including from me – but it’s time to give credit where it’s due. Victorian Socialists and associated ferals set out to “smash” today’s March for the Babies. They were intent on silencing us and didn’t care how they did it.
Victoria Police, under the command of Snr Sgt Katherine Mitchell, did a superb job of protecting marchers and avoiding the violence pro-abortionists were intent on. Even when I was attacked, Police acted quickly to remove the threat.
The boys and girls in blue did a magnificent job, and I thank and congratulate them for their great work.
The three cheers at the end was much deserved!”
The significance of these comments, that we take as genuine on face value, should not be underestimated.
The date of this demonstration was the 8th of October. However, the Emergency Declarations that VicPol was operating under during the COVID demonstrations did not expire until 11.59 pm on October 12, 4 days later.
So, who pushed the button that VicPol would revert to Policing demonstrations in the non-confrontational approach of the pre-COVID era? What was the medical advice that VicPol was operating under on the 8th?
As we have experienced, every pronouncement on COVID restrictions or otherwise are time and date stamped and inflexible, but something may have changed.
Was it the Police or the Government politics that swung this change? Who authorised the ‘softening’ of the Emergency Declaration?
When viewing the footage of the COVID Demonstrations, it has been a puzzle. When assessing the response, we ask:
- Why were demonstrators herded together, which would presumably be the antithesis of a COVID response?
- From a COVID infection perspective, why chase people down the streets? Running away from confrontation (dispersing and minimising infection risks) has to be positive.
- What happened when these people were caught, and pepper sprayed? Was this a sanction being applied, punishment for their behaviour?
- Why were demonstrators herded into residential areas where there would be added risk to innocent residents?
- Why did Police continually break ranks and attack crowds?
And yet, on the 8th of October, we have VicPol behaving and responding in a disciplined, carefully planned professional operation intent on maintaining the peace and the right of people to exercise their democratic right of freedom of assembly.
The Emergency declaration was still in force.
As Bernie Finn has indicated, Senior Sergeant Katherine Mitchell did an excellent job, and full credit to her for maintaining proper command and control, but behind the good Senior Sergeant, there is an extensive operational command structure, which is where it gets interesting.
We have suspected for some time that there have been political hawks in the Police Senior command. These people apparently enforcing the will of the Government to use violence. Who was responsible and what was the influence of senior command in the way protests were handled? It may be only a Royal Commission is the only way this and the other questions will be answered.
This latest demonstration hints that the hawks may have been moved on within the Police organisation, but in our view, that is unsatisfactory as they should be held to public account and not permitted to slink off into anonymity not held to account for their actions.
As we look to the future, we can see hope with the efforts of Senior Sergeant Mitchell and her subordinate team.
We would want to be assured that fail-safes are installed in the process that will avoid the repetition of the hawks or political apparatchiks overtaking responsible Policing.
Independent command and control principles must be guaranteed for the future.
It would seem that only a Royal Commission can provide the community with certainty in the future.
When done correctly, and we assume without political influences, VicPol is very good at what it does.
Although our faith in Victoria Police was tested, we knew they could do it.
Attached is a few minutes of an interview by Tony Jones on the 3AW Neil Mitchell show yesterday. He mentioned that the Police Remembrance day is also about those Police who have suffered mental health injury as a result of their job (it’s in the last couple of minutes if the interview). He said when you have a bad day as a Police Officer then it’s a really bad day.
Listen to the interview here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1487558995063162
25th September 2022
Policing would have to be one of the most challenging functions to measure.
Traditionally the public measurement has been the level of crime and or the road toll, but neither of these measuring techniques adequately measure the effectiveness of policing, on their own.
Perceptions also feed into the equation, as do other intangibles that make the job challenging but not impossible.
There is a respect deficit towards Policing in the community, and VicPol must work hard to regain the respect lost because policing is always less effective in a community with a lack of enthusiasm towards its Police.
Without remedial action, a downward spiral will evolve and gather pace to the detriment of policing and the community.
Our well-educated community no longer accepts bland generalist measuring strategies.
The reporting function to the community has seen the introduction of independent crime analysis; however, there has not been significant improvement in content in over forty years; it is time to address the issue; tomorrow is too late.
“You cannot escape the responsibilities of tomorrow by evading them today.”
The information shortfalls leave the community in a void and contradictions of their lived experiences. Whether the view formed is accurate is, to a degree, irrelevant; their experience formulated their view.
If VicPol is to regain community trust, it must fill the void with accurate, timely and frank information. Whether the information is painful does not mean it should not be disseminated, but to do so will demonstrate the genuineness of VicPol and present it as an organisation that can be trusted.
It is also essential that VicPol avoid the communication ‘spin’ trap, hitherto regularly applied; it is counterproductive.
It is all right to say that VicPol is intent on community engagement but unless the tools are developed to make that engagement effective, it may be of limited value and remain just an aspirational goal.
The community needs to know the policing effectiveness in their neighbourhood, what problems exist, and the strategies to rectify the situation.
The Rebecca Judd matter is an example. Ultimately, she was right, and the Force relying on dated or misread Statistics was wrong. It may have happened, but we missed the apology to her.
Therefore, empirical data must be available in a timely manner and easily accessible by anybody.
Measuring data can neither be confidential nor sensitive; it is public property.
Alongside the need for accurate information is the need for proper management, backed by the same empirical data. That includes the ability of managers to decipher statistics correctly instead of trying to manipulate them.
Recently, we have heard senior police referring to allocating resources throughout the State. At first, blush a laudable initiative. However, the problem identified is that some areas appear underserviced while others appear over-serviced in resources.
What concerns the CAA is that the decision may well be made without adequate empirical data, which could be a mistake.
For example, we know that the New South Wales Police undertook significant staffing realignments in times past, achieving maximum staff upheaval for minimal results. Creating many dissatisfied members. The impact on productivity should have been foreshadowed.
The lesson; any changes must be incremental, and the staff taken along rather than forced.
That would create a solid argument for each position within the Force to be advertised and filled by an applicant. Any realignments would be achieved by advertised positions rather than forced movements. Allowing staff to own a position can be an excellent motivator.
Simply looking at broad parameter outputs on a Divisional or Regional level is difficult, as is applying wide-based statistics to a particular police station without examining other factors when, probably, most significant is the service area’s demographics.
It could ultimately turn out counterproductive if a station received extra resources without efforts to determine other issues affecting the station’s performance, starting with the station level management and the output of existing staff.
Before resources are moved around arbitrarily, the stations’ performance needs to be measured accurately so that direct comparisons can be made to other stations’ performances in a similar demographical environment.
If that is not done, how will it be determined that the reallocation was effective?
Unless demographics can be accurately determined and fed into ratings of realistic benchmarking and individual Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) measuring outcomes, any staffing allocation reshuffle is not likely to provide the desired effect but could have a detrimental consequence on the locations from where the resources are sourced.
We strongly suspect that all the data required to establish an effective measuring system already exists, so more likely than not, it should not further impact the operational police admin workload. Again, harnessing existing electronic data will be the key.
Without empirical and comprehensive analysis to support a final objective decision, it would be naive and wrong to assume problems are foremost resource based because that assumption can lead to flawed decisions.
Essentially, we argue that you have to start from the bottom up.
Unfortunately, optimum outcomes from management mechanisms pushed from the top down usually find resistance somewhere down the chain, causing the optimum outcome to be problematic.
The advantage of the bottom-up approach is that it gives frontline members input, equating to ownership. If driven from this direction, it also reduces the likelihood of increasing admin on front-line members or other unintended consequences.
It is, however, timely to caution decision makers in the words of former Chief Commissioner Kel Glare-
“In policing, it can be misleading to rely on statistics alone. The simple fact is that the best policing produces no measurable result. If there is a total absence of disorder, crime and traffic offences, the policing effort may be perfect, but there will be nothing to measure. One must be careful not to generate frenetic activity and measure that in the guise of productivity.”
There has to be a clear essential objective in bringing management support into the twenty-first century.
Decision makers must be given the tools to do their job. Unfortunately, the dearth of data leads to poor decisions.
Modernising the Force management data is onerous but will also benefit the promotional system as candidates will have empirical data on their ability to meet Force objectives. And this can have a positive impact on transfers and promotions.
If this is achieved, it will remove some of the tedium (in the personnel management area) currently distracting managers from their core function, managing.
20th September 2022
Like most of life’s endeavours, when anybody has a problem, they first and foremost have to come to grips with and recognise there is a problem; denial of a problem only works against a solution.
Enterprises like Policing are no different.
Victoria Police has a trust deficit with the community that must be accepted and addressed.
This deficit did not happen overnight and can be traced back to a number of issues that have all contributed.
The list is long and is not a value judgment on each, but the items as a whole have created the current negativity in the community.
The contributing issues
- Black Saturday bushfires. – A former Chief Commissioners’ leadership or severe lack of.
- The George Pell prosecution. – Convicted on what can only be described as implausible and weak evidence. Subsequently overturned by the High Court of Australia.
- Uniform change– The change to a black uniform (Salute Blue) and generally discarding of headdress, the symbol of Office, has had a substantially negative impact on the Force image and authority.
- The Gobbo affair- The ramification of some deplorable and corrupt Victoria Police decisions and performance has resonated across all community sectors and is not fading from the community psyche.
- Quarantine Hotels failure – The public is aware of the efforts by Victoria Police to avoid taking charge of the Quarantine Hotels in the initial stages of the Pandemic. The over 800 deaths may have been avoided if police had taken control initially. That initial role is a Police responsibility, refer to the Police Act.
- Politicians making false claims– Two politicians made bogus claims on travelling entitlements claiming considerable funds from the public purse. The blatant criminal fraud went un-investigated, and perpetrators were not pursued for their crimes.
- COVID-19 response- The decisions in relation to much of the COVID Police response were flawed. No matter how often the counterargument has been proffered that VicPol had no choice given the Chief Health Officers Orders, whilst to a degree this is true, VicPol had discretion on how those orders were applied in the field and failed. This feeds the view that VicPol were carrying out these outrageous responses at the behest of the Government.
- Bourke street massacre– The Court of Public opinion is convinced this matter was handled poorly, resulting in unnecessary loss of life. Generally seen as a Command failure to intervene earlier. Supported by the coronial findings
- Red Shirts – It is difficult for the community to fathom why all the suspected perpetrators were not charged or not even formally interviewed. – given the return of the money was an admission of guilt.
- Branch stacking – Although the stacking is not a police matter per se, many actions seem to be criminal, yet police have not instigated investigations.
- Danni Laidley affair– Like most of the community, we found it improper for police to photograph and distribute photos of Laidley when arrested for Stalking. But the Police response was, for the most part, well over the top. escalating the matter that is seen as petty and a waste of police resources.
- Slug-Gate – This artifice has still not been adequately investigated despite Police claims to the contrary. VicPol just does not seem to grasp the magnitude of the issue. The ICooks’ Slug-Gate’ experience is only a part of the story.
No investigation into what public officers who committed misconduct, misappropriation of public money, or conspiracies in this artifice; Although trite, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, you can bet it is a duck.
- Non-Police duties- The evolution of the Police’s role to assume responsibilities for matters beyond their core business has seen a diminution of Police’s overall function in public safety, preventing crime and disorder.
Additional roles in Domestic Violence and Psych patient management must be resisted and responsibility given back to the agencies responsible.Nothing less than the Police Act establishes the Police role. Subsequent devolution of non-Police roles is an unambiguous contravention of that Act. It is well past time for the Police management to push back; the law is on their side.
- Poor service delivery – in part, but not solely, the misunderstanding of Service delivery, as opposed to Service efficiency has been a culprit but other push factors have contributed.
Of all of these issues, Service delivery, which anecdotally continues to grow seemingly unabated, is the single greatest contributor to the Trust deficit.
The road to recovery will be long and, at times, tedious and perhaps painful, but delaying the task is the worst possible alternative because it will only become harder.
The recently released Corporate Plan provides a guide to the direction Policing must take; however, it is let down by failing to provide measurement strategies to show the community achievements in reaching the goals of the Plan.
We use the word guide deliberately because without clear benchmarking, that is always as strong as the Plan will be.
The first step is, acknowledging that the Victoria police has made errors and vows to address the organisation’s shortcomings for the benefit of all Victorians.
To complete this step, it must be accompanied by tangible objectives heralding change.
A commitment to tackle corruption without fear or favour backed up by action will have a profound and positive impact. Essentially some historical matters need to be resolved; therefore, a line in the sand approach would fail.
As far as operationally possible, no coverups and honest and open communication with the community is essential. No ‘feeding the chooks’ approach so often used.
Focusing on core activities but providing the initial response capacity that Policing is renowned for will take competent management but resonate well with the community.
One initiative that will enable this to be fast tracked will be the development of a Force reserve to give the Force the rapid capacity to respond to Service delivery short falls.
Recruiting in the current environment is problematic where a Reserve force will be a cost-effective alternative with shorter lead times.
With the upcoming Commonwealth Games in a bit over three years ahead this may be the only way to give VicPol the surge capacity to deal with that event.
Additionally with the games spread over a large part of the State reserve members who live in rural centres may alleviate other logistical issues like accommodating Police from elsewhere.
A force-wide attitude of ‘why should we’, needs to be changed to,
‘If you want help, call us.’
13th September 2022
There is a lot to like about the Victoria Police Corporate Plan https://www.police.vic.gov.au/victoria-police-corporate-plan-2022-2023, and the community we suggest will be pleased with the directions the Force is taking.
The Force priorities, even in the order they are listed, would undoubtedly resonate positively with the community.
- Community safety
- Reducing crime
- Reducing road trauma and
- Service delivery excellence.
Of these priorities, the most significant is Service delivery because, without effective Service delivery, the other priorities have a limited chance of success.
For all the excellent work in this Corporate Plan, there is, however, one glaring anomaly that strikes at and severely diminishes the value of this document; the lack of outcomes measurement.
How will the community, or for that matter the Force, know if the plan has worked?
That anomaly will be addressed as part of a further article on organisational management practices.
A failure of police administration’s past has seen confusion evolve with the Service delivery concept. Overlaying the Service delivery function with Service efficiency; two distinct and often diametrically opposed concepts that can constantly work against each other, have gone a long way to disconnecting police from the community.
No better example exists than discontinuing a phone switchboard facility for Police Headquarters, the Victoria Police Centre.
You can not ring Victoria Police Headquarters per se.
The abandonment of this resource would clearly be Service efficiency at a substantial cost to Service delivery.
A clearer example from a CAA member of this failure is unlikely; we hope;
… on Monday, (5th Sep.) I (a Police veteran) telephoned the VicPol number 131 444, to find out a contact point for an acquaintance (who was aware of my previous experience in Fraud matters) who wanted to report a major fraud to the Fraud Squad, after he had tried and failed. All I got was a recorded message to either press 1 or 2. I pressed 1 and was told by a recorded message that my call would be answered in 40 minutes, YES – 40 minutes. I hung up.
This is a clear and dramatic failure of Service delivery and rates up there with the failures to deliver Freedom of Information (FIO) requests stretching out to nine months.
We strongly suspect the culprit is a management one – benchmarking and accountabilities would seem the obvious culprits and must be resolved before the alternative of simply throwing more resources at the problem, the current go-to option, which should never be done without the other drivers being examined.
We will have more to say on these and other management concepts in following articles because the problem is severe.
Addressing these apparent weaknesses will go a long way toward improving the performance of both Police operations and Police management from an output and welfare basis.
Service delivery, however, must be viewed from the user’s (the community) perspective, where Service efficiency is viewed from an organisation’s economic or resource perspective.
Another common fallacy is that an organisation assumes that the consumer knows how to navigate through a large organisation. This often flawed assumption is aggravated by accusing the failure or pushing responsibility to gain access to the user, a critical flaw.
Good communication is the lifeblood of policing, administratively and operationally, so placing barriers across communication channels is counterintuitive.
Private corporations and other public entities have suffered the same clash but are now a wake-up and are making huge improvements. The move from offshore call centres is but one example.
However, we hope that with Service delivery now a priority, we will see vast improvements in policing.
The measurement knowledge referred to earlier is an entitlement the community could reasonably expect, and any broad overarching global statistical response will not reasonably satisfy the public who want to know how the plan has worked in their community; not just the State or some region that makes no geographical sense to the general public.
There are also a number of parameters that the community would want and are entitled to know at a local level not serviced by the usual key factors like crime and road toll statistics.
The failure to provide this information feeds the community’s view of a lack of transparency and accountability of Victoria Police which is contrary to the intent of the Chief Commissioner.
How is it anticipated that community confidence in their police will grow if they don’t know how the Force is responding to their needs?
There may well be internal measuring that, for whatever reason, are not made public, which detracts from the plan’s strengths and feeds the perception of the siege mentality towards the community the organisation has developed.
We know the Chief Commissioner supports transparency and accountability, but it is not being practised when viewed externally, so we need to look at the cause.
The level achieved towards the nirvana of good community relations is directly proportionate to the effectiveness of Policing overall and visa-versa. One begets the other.
The community’s compliance with the law because they want to will always trump compliance because they must.
Equally and most critically, the higher the level of confidence the public has in the Force is directly correlated to the quality, frequency and strength of information flow from the public and voluntary compliance.
So, it is overwhelmingly evident that timely and open communication with the public is the key to the effectiveness of policing.
A void in information causes and encourages misinformation to be promulgated to fill the gap. No better example was the misfortune that the Premier suffered in a fall. The misinformation seen by many as fact, filling the void in information, was extraordinary.
The other side of the coin is the intangibles, where competent management excels and lesser managers fail.
The intangibles like police attitude and enthusiasm to perform their duties are bolstered if they work in a positive community environment. Good communications from police drive that positive environment.
Hence the critical role of effective Service delivery.
9th September 2022
The Watts Report does not instil confidence that all the options of criminality were adequately explored by the integrity units.
Since drafting this missive, a Whistle-blower’s bombshell allegations levelled at Police Command has come to light.
If these allegations, as reported in the media, are true, and we are not suggesting they are or not, the allegations are at least new.Albeit that interference in this and other matters like Slug-gate has long been suspected, these allegations further erode the community trust in the Victoria Police command, adding to the already severe trust deficit that exists post-COVID.
These revelations have cast a dark pall over the entire Command of Victoria Police.
The allegations must be addressed as a matter of extreme urgency if for no other reason than to allow Police members to have confidence in their Command. Otherwise, the capacity of the Victoria Police to perform its vital function will be compromised if a lack of confidence in the leadership is allowed to ferment further.
This lack of confidence is growing in the community. Still, more importantly, the Police members we rely on to protect us will be impacted, potentially adversely affecting performance in the field.
How these allegations are handled will be an actual test of the efficacy of police command. Police are generally very sceptical in these matters, so a misstep in handling this matter could lead to more significant harm. Nothing short of a thorough, competent and independent investigation to determine the veracity of these allegations and identify any perpetrators would be acceptable to the community—a view shared by most serving and former Police.
Contrary to what some would have you believe, the vast majority of police at all levels abhor corruption, so we avoid the term ‘a corrupt Police Force’ as it is overwhelmingly not.
But the question remains, is there corruption within the Police Force, as this Whistle-blower has alleged?
The problem with these allegations is they strike at the very individuals who Police and the community rely on to keep corruption within the Police Force in check. These new allegations indicate the commission of other grave crimes. Perverting the Course of Justice and other conspiracies designed to achieve that perversion is committed by, as yet, unidentified individuals, hence the need for an investigation.
It only takes one or two rotten apples in the police command for all to be tarred with the same brush. Equally the command is also seriously conflicted therefore unable to properly investigate their own, or make management decisions in relation to this issue.
Given their predisposed public views on the Red Shirts, Branch stacking and Slug-gate affairs, we question and strongly argue that IBAC is not the appropriate agency or authority to investigate these claims. They are already, like police command, significantly and unavoidably conflicted, so any further investigation by them would not prove meritorious.
Although we are not privy to the detail, from the information we can glean in the public domain, the investigative capacity of IBAC is subpar even with its extraordinary powers. A view reinforced by their inability to charge (as distinct from gaining a conviction) even one person in the Red Shirts, Branch Stacking and Slug-gate affairs, aggravated by unambiguous admissions by some perpetrators and overwhelming evidence against others.
Millions of dollars, and they have yet to land one glove. So that must be rated as a failure of epic proportions.
There are many examples where many allegations, in Police parlance, are ‘a lay down misère’ or a ‘Slam dunk’ for charges to be laid with a strong possibility of a conviction. We are yet to be graced with any plausible arguments as to why this has not occurred.
However, should merit be found in these latest allegations, it supports our contention that the whole Red Shirts rort and ICooks (Slug-gate) investigations were nobbled. Indeed, if they had been thoroughly investigated in the first instance, then issues like this would have been exposed, and we would not be sifting through the entrails of these and other breaches and abuses of public trust.
While the offence of Misconduct in Public Office has been erroneously, in our view, explained away by claiming that the Premier was only immersed in the artifice, no such explanation is provided for the other perpetrators or why many of the participants have not been interviewed and charged with Conspiracy.
A raft of possible offences of fraudulent behaviour ignites a conspiracy. The Watts report details forgery, deceptions, and Misconduct in Public Office. With these latest allegations, it would seem that Perverting the course of Justice and additional Conspiracy offences can be added to the now very long list.
As for those involved, it could potentially be in the order of fifty or more perpetrators. Spanning politicians, political staffers, political party members, public servants and police, predominately in the higher ranks.
A conspiracy of extraordinary proportions requires extraordinary effort to bring perpetrators to Justice and lift the cloud of suspicion from those in the various sectors who were not involved or facilitators of these criminal endeavours.
The honest brokers deserve better.
It could be reasonably argued that this whole artifice is organised; therefore, the Office of the Chief Examiner, if given power, may be the next avenue for consideration to establish the truth.
Additional to criminality, the people of Victoria are entitled to the truth.
There is enough evidence in the Watts Report for the perpetrators to be interviewed under caution and charged with several offences, including Conspiracy. If that is not done, it would clearly indicate the veracity of the Whistleblower’s allegations. There has been a lot said about the foot soldiers in this artifice, and it is reasonable to conclude they were under pressure to comply, but as many have said, they knew it was wrong, but they participated anyway.
They all had the option to walk away; it is not as though work is hard to find.
We seriously question the role of the Integrity units to make judgement calls relevant to the culpability of participants as they did for the Premier. That call is not theirs to make but the Director of Public Prosecutions. So exercising power, they do not have is a ‘power relevance issue’ afflicting the integrity units.
The actions and degrees of culpability that a perpetrator may have exercised are a matter for the Courts. However, if the Courts think their role is minor or incidental, the Courts have the power to exercise discretion in sentencing, a power the Integrity entities do not and should not have.
There is no doubt while the Integrity entities fail to lay charges against perpetrators of corrupt practices, those practices will continue to flourish.
The Legislators must also move to harness the powers that the Integrity units are bestowing upon themselves. This inappropriate exercising of power is a very dangerous practice and could lead to serious misdeeds, let alone being legally questionable.
The only option for an acceptable solution, apart from the Public Examiner, although remote, is that Victoria Police develop a conscience and undertake a no holds barred investigation honouring their oath.
That would go a long way to rebuilding confidence in our Force.
The most apparent takeout from these ongoing sagas, which would be well behind us if they had been dealt with properly in the first instance, will be the inevitable need for a Royal Commission, which will drag this all out for years to come. Politically, these sagas will be an albatross for one side of politics for years to come. That is not healthy for our government, irrespective of their political persuasion. As these matters drag on, we wonder what the next revelation may be.
Even the most intransigent amongst us must now accept that these matters cannot be willed away or swept under the carpet. The Political class must surely realise that by now, and deal with it properly, no matter how painful that may be.
The Community Advocacy Alliance Inc (CAA) has submitted this paper, Policing Victoria 2022, to the Chief Commissioner and has made it available to the political decision-makers of this State irrespective of their ideology.
We intend to publish their responses so the public can have feedback on the attitude of those responsible for our State’s critical decisions.
Additionally, the paper is available to the Media to allow them to comment.
Most importantly, the paper is available to all Victorians HERE.
The CAA has prepared the paper to assist the role and function of policing in this State. It is influenced by over six hundred years of Policing experience and a range of other disciplines, including Legal, Entrepreneurial, Road Safety, Health, Business, Hospitality, Financial, Arts, Ethnic communities and others, with a common goal dedicated to improving the State of Victoria for all Victorians no matter who or what they are.
Some initiatives are processes or procedures that have, for whatever reason, been discontinued but would be of immense value to the community now, and many are new and innovative.
Many areas of Policing have not received comment, although they are no less important; we have tended to focus on structural issues as correcting the structure is integral to the success of rebuilding this proud Police Force.
Rebuilding, because that is what is required. Another inquiry costing taxpayers millions is not needed but what is required is Police management that listens and acts in the best interest of all Victorians and does not pander to the ideological whims of those who would deconstruct policing if given half a chance.
The overarching result is a paper that can provide a future direction for policing in Victoria for the benefit of the Police and all Victorians.
We commend this paper to you and invite your comment.
Analysis part 6 – The Premiers Evidence
4th of September 2022
We need to look at some of the evidence as to whether a crime has been committed.
In this instalment, we will deal with the evidence of the Premier of Victoria, Mr Daniel Andrews, or more accurately, such as that evidence made available is. We say this because most of the Premier’s evidence was not published by IBAC. However, that part of the transcript reproduced in the Operation Watts report was made public on relevance grounds. We would have thought that all the evidence the Premier gave was relevant and should be released.
Our comments, therefore, only relate to the published evidence by the Premier, and on that restriction, we believe the Premier has been unfairly treated.
Unfair because there is no ability to understand whether the context of his answers is fairly represented or reasonable, and we cannot understand just what the overall veracity of the examination was. Therefore, we and the broader public can only draw conclusions based on what is available.
From the outset, what has surprised us is the demeanour of the Premier, as reflected in those evidentiary transcripts reproduced by IBAC. The Premier’s usual self-assured demeanour displayed by him almost daily in the media was replaced with stilted responses, repetition and uncertainty.
We may be assessing the evidence unfairly, but the Premier did, in our opinion, give the impression he was a man under considerable pressure during his IBAC examination.
Another surprise to us was the Premier admitting that the Red Shirts and Branch stacking issues staff were employees of the State, used for party-political activities, and he did nothing about it.
Was this not the nub of the whole Watts inquiry?
We regard his admissions as very telling because it raises concerns about the view proffered by the Ombudsman that the Premier was only “immersed“ in the Red Shirts scheme and that this somehow exonerates him from any liability.
According to the Cambridge online dictionary, ‘Immersed’ means “to become completely involved in something”.
The Ombudsman is an experienced lawyer and bureaucrat. Therefore, we are entitled to presume that the word ‘immersed’ was not a mistake. Nevertheless, this language choice for the Ombudsman raises genuine concerns about the Premier’s involvement in the Red Shirts scheme.
It is therefore relevant to examine the evidence published in the Watts Report in more detail. Set out below is evidence of the Premier accompanied by italicised CAA comments
Watts Report page 30 Item 146 –
According to the Watts report – Premier Andrews was not one of the MPs found by the Red Shirts investigation to have ‘participated’ in the scheme.
CAA- An unreasonable assumption based on the evidence.
In our view, IBAC and the Ombudsman have adopted an inappropriately narrow view of the meaning of “participated”, defined as ‘to take a share or part’ (Cambridge), and Mr Andrews gave evidence that he did take part.
By his admission, he was also ‘knowingly concerned’, having referred Mr Somyurek to Mr Lenders, who was administering the scheme for the parliamentary ALP. This admission is arguably ‘mens rea’ (a guilty mind).
The statement also alludes that there were other MP’s who participated in the scheme, but there appears no appetite to prosecute any of them. Raising the issue of why not, if they were immersed?
In his evidence to the present investigation, Mr Andrews was asked about Mr Somyurek’s evidence.
MR ANDREWS: I had a very brief encounter with Mr Somyurek at the end of a caucus meeting. I have detailed this, I think not long after or, sorry, at an earlier point when this was a matter of media enquiry. It was a very brief encounter and I referred him to John Lenders.
That is my – that’s my recount, my recall of that particular encounter, brief and really only an issue of referral, and I don’t believe that he raised anything other than he didn’t – he raised – I don’t even know that he raised concerns, other than that, you know, he might have gone on to raise concerns with me, but I directed him to Mr Lenders.
CAA- The Premier seems confused and vacillating. He points IBAC to Mr Lenders, just as he admitted in his evidence that he pointed Mr Somyuek to Mr Lenders. The Premier knew of Mr Lenders’ involvement, and the Premier is the leader of the State. He cannot absolve himself of further investigation simply by pointing IBAC to the person who administered the scheme. IBAC does not mention the investigative steps it took concerning Mr Lenders. IBAC’s approach does not remotely qualify as a basic investigation but as an abrogation of its responsibility.
COUNSEL: Did you use an expression akin to, ‘Do you want to win an election or not’?
MR ANDREWS: I don’t believe so. I have a clear recollection, given the brevity of the encounter, and I’m not – that’s not language that I use. I think people who know me would not see me speaking in those terms, would not describe me as someone who speaks in those terms. […]
CAA – The Premier demonstrates an excellent recall of what is described as a brief encounter after a caucus meeting in 2014 5-6 years ago. This dramatically contrasts with other evidence he has given in other inquiries, where he could not recall matters 1-2 years ago, although that is not relevant in this matter. It may, however, have relevance to his character. His failure to recall details of other contentious matters. Must now be questioned
The use of the phrase “I don’t believe so.” is an equivocation on the part of the Premier and warranted a much more forthright examination by IBAC, especially as the Premier then immediately followed those words with the claim to having a “clear recollection” of what he then described as a brief “encounter”.
In its very best light, this evidence by the Premier is contradictory. On that basis, the Premier should have been required to provide his full recollection to IBAC of the conversation between himself and Mr Somyurek during this brief “encounter”. But he wasn’t because IBAC, for whatever reason, did not do its job correctly.
IBAC appears to have ‘run dead’ on its examination of the Premier concerning what is a pivotal aspect of the allegations lodged by Mr Somyurek.
Instead, IBAC, in essence, allows the Premier to claim that anonymous “people who know (him)” would not see him speaking in those terms. In other words, the Premier claims he doesn’t talk like that. Because of the importance of this testimony to the credibility of the Premier’s evidence, it was important that IBAC test the Premier’s claims exhaustively. Their failure reflects poorly on them.
COMMISSIONER: Do you at the time feel you had an understanding of the essence of Mr Lenders’ scheme?
MR ANDREWS: I probably did. I had no concerns at that time given, you know, I wasn’t acting to stop him doing it. But this issue of whether I spoke in those terms or essentially justified or was unconcerned with serious issues of probity and integrity that Mr Somyurek raised with me, that is not my recollection of that conversation and nor is that the evidence that he provided to the privileges committee at the time. A very brief encounter and I referred him to John. […]
CAA– This response is an unambiguous admission of knowledge of the use of Parliamentary staff. The evidence that he wasn’t acting to stop him (Lenders) strengthens his claim that he had no concerns, which is counterintuitive. He had an understanding of the Lenders scheme but had no concerns – this evidence brings into question the Premier’s competence.
COUNSEL: Were you aware of what Mr Lenders was proposing in a general sense?
MR ANDREWS: Yes.
COUNSEL: And were you aware that it involved electorate officers doing party-political work?
MR ANDREWS: I’m not sure whether it was – well, I was aware that it was about engaging staff to be involved in campaigning. My recollection is that at no point did I have a sense that what was being proposed was not in accordance with the rules or advice from Parliamentary Services. My memory of it is that it was – pooling arrangements have been part of parliamentary parties for quite some time, our party and others. I expect I viewed it in those terms…
CAA- In this exchange, his omissions become more strident. Admitting he was aware of staff being engaged in campaigning. He further aggravates the matter by alleging everybody else is doing it (the schoolyard defence), but no evidence of that was given. Rather than relying on ‘a sense’, it would have been proper to check with the Parliamentary Services.
As damming as this evidence may be, evidence given before IBAC is generally privileged. This means that it cannot be used in a criminal prosecution of the witness except in minimal circumstances. However, the evidence can be used in an external criminal investigation as an intelligence source for further inquiries that may turn up admissible evidence.
Our Integrity bodies have decided that the Premier has not committed a breach to warrant criminal charges or further investigation.
They have argued that rather than criminality, he was just immersed in the artifice, which somehow absolves him of criminal responsibility and accountability.
The same rationale could be applied to Tony Mokbel with his drug empire or the Outlaw Motor Cycle Gangs (OMG’s) leaders. However, those leaders are probably only immersed in the illegal activity of the clubs and should not be held to account for their organisation’s criminal endeavours.
No matter the endeavour, the organisation leaders carry the responsibility and accountability for their organisations.
In our view, evidence published by IBAC and the Ombudsman is sufficient to warrant consultation with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Yet no such consultation ever took place. This raises questions about the joint operation’s thoroughness, competence and integrity. It also raises questions about the lawyers within IBAC and the Ombudsman’s Office acting ultra vires (acting beyond ones legal powers) by usurping a role that was not properly theirs – the prosecutorial decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions
Whether any of those involved should be held to account in a Court of Law is a matter for the DPP. A Court has the role of deciding guilt or innocence, not Integrity bureaucrats.
We have discussed in this series the activity of the Integrity entities contrary to their legislated rules, the lack of equality before the Law, the abuse of legal process by the sidelining of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)and the entities making findings that they are ‘prohibited’ to make.
In this part, we raise the issue of public examinations.
The legislation bemoaned as inadequate by the entities, at least to some degree, balances the ledger regarding the use of this extraordinary power by setting strict guidelines. The problem with guidelines is that they are open to interpretation; in this case, if they used the public interest value, they got it the wrong way around.
In these cases, the power was exercised on several occasions, but how it was exercised raises significant concern.
The Premier was not required to expose himself to a public hearing as others of equal or less culpability were.
As we have previously raised the issue of fairness and equality before the Law, this is a prime example that the entities cannot be relied upon to discharge these responsibilities fairly and equally.
This is an instance of who you are, trumping equality before the Law.
Earlier this year, the former Mayor of the City of Casey, Amanda Stapledon, was found deceased in a car. IBAC had investigated Ms Stapledon over serious matters associated with the Council and relationships with a property developer.
It was reported at the time (The Australian 2nd Feb 2022, ‘IBAC blamed for Mayor’s death’) that Stapledon played a relatively minor role. It was reported that although she suspected something might be wrong, she did not benefit directly from her involvement.
Perhaps described best as immersed in the process, a bit like it was alleged the Premier was in the Red Shirts. However, the benefit to the Premier was far more apparent; he won an election.
She was, however, subject to the humiliation of a public examination which it was claimed caused the tipping point leading to her demise. She died three days after receiving the IBAC report.
We have discussed some of the Legal principles and extend that commentary to the other very basic principle, the presumption of Innocence.
The presumption of Innocence until proven guilty means that the burden of proof is always on the Government to satisfy you that [defendant] is guilty of the crime with which [he/she] is charged beyond a reasonable doubt.- https://law.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/3445545/Paper_Belkin_Ira.pdf
That definition seems unambiguous and is a principle that must be applied to all legal processes.
The public examination process is so compromised in lack of equality in its application that it must be removed from the options available to the integrity entities.
These examinations can best be described as a ‘Show Trial’ and give the distinct impression they are used for punitive purposes as they never seem to elicit more admissible evidence than the private inquisitions, where the Integrity Units have enormous power to extract information.
If the agencies cannot conduct a successful investigation and prosecution with all their extraordinary powers, resorting to ‘Show trials’ is an abuse of power.
It must be remembered that the IBAC has the option to apply to the Supreme Court to have a matter put before the Public Examiner as it could be argued that many of the crimes investigated are Organised so that they could fall under the Examiner’s remit. https://www.chiefexaminer.vic.gov.au/
No matter what you may think as an investigator, if you cannot legally harness the evidence required for a prosecution, then so be it, and provided you have applied your best efforts, time to move on.
The value of a public examination as an investigation tool is moot, so it is clearly a sanction.
There are also stringent legal policies about the principle of justice and a fair trial.
What constitutes a fair hearing will require recognition of the interests of the accused, the victim and the community (in a criminal trial) and of all parties- https://www.ag.gov.au › public-sector-guidance-sheets
It is arguable that putting a suspect before an IBAC ‘Show Trial’ has the real potential to influence potential jurors. That could favour or disadvantage the accused. Whether or not, is not the issue; but the potential is.
Putting people who, at worst, are suspects, having not been charged with any Criminal or other offence, to public humiliation is a sanction no matter how it is argued. Therefore, as they are innocent before the Law, public examination ‘Show Trials’ are punishment without conviction.
The modern-day version of the medieval stocks, without rotten tomatoes.
The presumption of Innocence is a straightforward principle and forms the cornerstones of our legal system; however, because of some foible, the principles have been thrown away in establishing the Integrity units.
The case for extraordinary powers for these units is somewhat justified. Still, when you review the annual reports of IBAC, for example, a cursory cost-benefit analysis of the organisation, leaves a lot to be desired. With the millions invested thus far, the outcomes seem a bit on the thin side, and significant scalps are very rare, and not because significant scalps are less corruptible.
Our legislators have generally been sold a pup on this issue.
It is, therefore, imperative that a proper and detailed nonpartisan approach needs to review the functions of all the Integrity agencies we fund to examine rationalisation and cost-effectiveness.
Pooling all Integrity functions within Government under one accountable umbrella would mean rationalising resources, skills, and accountabilities, minimising the need for an extraordinary expansion of the cost and size of individual Integrity units. In addition, the cost savings by consolidating administrations would be substantial.
This would expand opportunities for employees to further their careers within the sector, improving performance and justifying specialist training that will strengthen the battle against corruption overall.
As part of its charter, these authorities must have a role in prevention and detection and, without compromising operational security, be transparent and accountable.
As we have said, we support the necessity of Integrity units, provided they operate within the framework of our laws and not outside them.
The Operation Watts report promotes the ideal that there is one rule for the governing class and one for everybody else. It effectively and deliberately shatters what is left of public confidence in our system of Government and seriously undermines confidence in our legal system; this must be addressed.
A job for Politicians of all persuasions.
Equality before the law is another legal principle that the IBAC and the Ombudsman have chosen to ignore, according to the Operation Watts report.
Equality before the law, also known as legal egalitarianism, is the principle that all people must be equally protected by the law. The principle requires a systematic rule of law that observes due process to provide equal justice, and requires equal protection, ensuring that no individual nor group of individuals be privileged over others by the law. Sometimes called the principle of isonomy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equality_before_the_law
The arguments for the breach of this legal construct in the report dealing with the Red Shirts and Branch Stacking is blatant and seriously disturbing.
The complete disregard and disdain of the victims, we the voting public, of this artifice is not masked. Noting that the Role of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who has an obligation under the law to consider victims was unceremoniously bypassed.
Forgotten is that the election of 2014 was influenced by the Red Shirts artifice. The hordes of Red Shirts that we thought were volunteers were in fact government employees.
As serious as not considering the victims is, when the operation and the findings by the Integrity units (which they are not entitled to make) promote inequality, there are serious problems.
- Public IBAC hearings is an example where it depends on who you are as to whether you are exposed to a public hearing. (The IBAC Act enables this inequity)
- If the perpetrators in this artifice were in the private sector would the outcomes have been different?
- When a suspect is ‘emersed’ in an artifice is it their position that allows them not to be treated equally before the law?
- Colour coding corruption to mask inequality is asinine.
As with the other matters raising concern with the probity of the Victorian Integrity units, we argue that each individual misstep should have serious consequences but taken as a whole, the IBAC Commissioner and the Ombudsman should seriously consider their positions if Integrity is to have real meaning.
A competent and independent legal officer must be appointed as the interim head of both entities while a review is undertaken and the DPP and the Chief Commissioner review all cases. A clean slate bi-partisan approach is the only option.
More to come…
Red Shirts + Grey Corruption = Whitewash
How are we to deal with miscreant Integrity units when they step outside the law?
This State has a robust and effective legal system developed since Federation. We acknowledge that there are flaws; however, the ‘system’ has evolved to deal with legal anomalies through tried practices.
Although seen by some as excruciatingly slow, nevertheless, it mostly works well for all of us, most of the time. It also has built-in safeguards to protect the innocent and victims’ rights.
In this vein, we are highly critical of IBAC and the Ombudsman’s behaviours detailed in the Operation Watts report. Not only have they broken a Law themselves, but they have also ignored the prosecutorial conventions legislated in this State.
We were astounded to find the Director of Prosecutions (DPP) has been sidelined by the Integrity Bodies, left out of the loop when considerations regarding the likelihood of prosecutions were considered.
“We have carefully considered whether the identified misconduct constituted criminal offending that should be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Ultimately, the relevant offence calls for a value judgement about whether a breach of public trust is so serious that it merits criminal punishment.” – Watts Report.
The IBAC and the Ombudsman have clearly taken it upon themselves to determine a value judgement that is the purview of the DPP and the Courts, not theirs to exercise.
Whether the suspects are charged ‘a value judgement’ is a matter for the DPP, and’ merits criminal punishment’ are matters for courts of appropriate jurisdiction.
Punishment is only relevant if a miscreant is convicted. Oddly the Integrity units see the process as punishment, a very troubling misunderstanding of our legal process. A concept they exercise elsewhere is identified in these analyses.
There is also very good reason, as demonstrated by the approach of the IBAC and the Ombudsman in these cases, why the DPP exists and its role is respected.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is responsible for beginning, preparing, and conducting serious criminal matters in Victoria on behalf of the Victorian community.
The DPP is supported by Crown Prosecutors’ Chambers – led by the Chief Crown Prosecutor – and the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) – led by the Solicitor for Public Prosecutions.
The DPP is an independent statutory officer appointed by the Governor in Council. The DPP is responsible to the Attorney-General for their performance and use of their power.
In performing their role, the DPP must consider:
- justice and fairness
- the need to conduct prosecutions in an effective, economical, and efficient manner
- the need to ensure that the prosecution system appropriately considers the concerns of victims of crime. – https://www.opp.vic.gov.au/who-we-are/
Critical to this State’s legal system are checks and balances and for the IBAC and the Ombudsman to immerse themselves in ‘careful considerations’ and making a finding on those considerations is, if not unlawful, a serious breach of legal protocol. We call it a whitewash.
This arrant behaviour also highlights the role of the IBAC Inspectorate, who clearly failed to perform an effective oversight role and allowed this misbehaviour to flourish.
Given the seriousness of the allegations and the admissions made by individuals, why wasn’t the DPP consulted and its input and support sought at the beginning of the process as is best investigative practice?
It would seem that in this matter, the highest profile suspect would, according to the Integrity units, have no case to answer. A prerogative they do not have to exercise; it lies with the DPP.
What the DPP may have a lot to say about is all the other miscreants in the artifice, it would seem, will likewise not be prosecuted.
Having Integrity Units that have lost their Integrity is untenable.
If a modicum of Integrity is left with either of the two principles, they should resign immediately; otherwise, the Parliament must remove them.
More to follow.
Red Shirts + Grey Corruption = Whitewash
The Watts report into the Red Shirts and Branch stacking activities undermines a cornerstone of our democracy – the rule of Law.
No one is above the Law, which is absolute; not an optional extra available to those in power.
‘At its most basic level, the rule of Law is the concept that both the Government and citizens know the Law and obey it. The Law should apply to all people equally regardless of their status in society – rich or poor, young or old, regardless of their gender, race, culture, religion, or any other attribute’. -https://www.ruleoflaw.org.au/principles/equality-before-the-law/
Just because you disagree with a Law that does not justify breaking it, a point missed by some during the COVID demonstrations. Disagree with the Law by all means, but use other mechanisms to change the Law; rather than breaking it.
In this case, the Integrity units have broken the Law that determines the existence of the Integrity bodies and how they must operate. These entities are supposedly designed to uphold the Law. One of the pillars between a lawful and lawless society. so for them to disobey a Law is an egregious crime.
The Integrity entities are not so privileged that they can pick and choose which laws they break, expecting impunity where the rest of the community does not.
“The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Act 2011 (IBAC Act Section 162(6)(a)(b) prohibits IBAC from including in a report a finding or an opinion that a person is guilty of or has committed any criminal offence or disciplinary offence, or a recommendation that a person should be prosecuted for a criminal offence or disciplinary offence.”
“Similarly, the Ombudsman Act 1973 prohibits the Ombudsman from including a finding or an opinion that a person is guilty of or has committed an offence, or a recommendation that a person be prosecuted for an offence. -Operation Watts Report
Apart from the wording of the Law; the concept of the Tenet of the Law; the intent. Cannot be disregarded.
“We have carefully considered whether the identified misconduct constituted criminal offending that should be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Ultimately, the relevant offence calls for a value judgement about whether a breach of public trust is so serious that it merits criminal punishment. Reasonable minds might differ on this.
Thus, although we consider the conduct egregious, the difficulties in proof are such that we cannot recommend prosecution.” – Operation Watts Report
The Act, ‘prohibits’, with an extraordinarily strong and unambiguous word that is transparent in its intent, preventing IBAC from including in a report a finding or an opinion relating to a prosecution.
Semantic arguments that they didn’t recommend prosecution, saying a prosecution would be unsuccessful, is without question a clear breach of the Law and, in many ways, is more objectionable than saying one would succeed.
This statement is calculated to nullify any other authority prosecuting the suspect referred to even the DPP. Even worse, the comments were construed in a way that could be extrapolated to cover all miscreants in the artifice. Arguably, grey corruption at work, or more accurately, a whitewash exposed.
These same reasonable minds identified in the Watts report may also reasonably conclude that IBAC and the Ombudsman have breached the Law by their comments. They have clearly expressed an opinion the Law requires them not to.
This action by the entities would seem to be precisely why the prohibition exists.
Under what basic standard of lawful endeavour do our two major integrity bodies get to choose what laws they may follow or not? This breach of the Law demolishes all confidence in both agencies as they have placed themselves above the Law.
This egregious breach places the agencies at a level no different from the perpetrators they are investigating, who also choose which laws they should ignore or break.
We need these agencies, however, these agencies must set the highest standard of
probity and in this matter they have failed spectacularly.
The positions of Redlich and Glass are now untenable.
Red Shirts + Grey Corruption = Whitewash
The Operations Watts report recently released on the joint investigation by IBAC and the Ombudsman’s of the Red shirts and Branch Stacking matters makes for interesting reading. At first blush, a lot of costs for no result.
Whether intended or not, the report has serious, unintended consequences: Non the least, the Integrity bodies illegal activity and inept investigation of a relatively straightforward matter of Fraud committed on the State.
The report, however, gives a strong impression that the whole investigation and the final report are to achieve a particular predetermined outcome – nobody will be held to account. And that is arguable a corrupt practice.
The report, however, exposes a number of striking revelations, and not all of them intended.
The evidence released in this report is riddled with admissions of guilt, abuse of power, incompetence, conflicting interpretations of facts and commission of a crime; and that is just by the Integrity units.
Then there are the suspected perpetrators who set up, managed and implemented this artifice called Red Shirts, the more junior seemingly forthright, not a gift offered by the executives under scrutiny.
I always knew I was on the taxpayer dollar. I know that it wasn’t right, I know that it’s not what we were employed to do. You had to do it because of your job …
– Former electorate officer, in evidence to investigation (Operations Watts )
We are strongly inclined to the view that Ms Deborah Glass, OBE the Ombudsman, is currently doing the media rounds trying to justify her non-action, and we assume the non-action of IBAC Commissioner Mr Robert Redlich AM QC, her partner in these Integrity inquiries.
It will be interesting how long she can pursue this charade. We get a strong sense this is the beginning, not the end, as she has claimed, with the focus moving from Red Shirt perpetrators to the Integrity bodies themselves.
To quote Shakespeare, ‘The Lady doth protest too much,‘ because she has come to the realisation that there are damning indictments scattered through the Watts Report, damming of IBAC and the Ombudsman. She is in damage control, but the more she says, the deeper the hole.
So serious are the issues, that both the IBAC Commissioner and the Ombudsman can share their solace as they walk out the metaphoric door of Government employ when their ineptitude and illegal activity are exposed.
The Watts report by their own hands ‘hoists them on their own petard’, their continuance as Officers of Integrity is now untenable, and they must go.
In the last few days, Glass has said a lot about not being enough evidence to charge the Premier with any offence; obviously, pressure is being applied.
But the very same Ombudsman waxed lyrical about the evidence that had been accumulated against the engineer of the Red Shirts artifice John Lenders. If Ms Glass is accurate in her assessment of the evidence against Lenders, why hasn’t he been charged? Because if he is not, that is corruption by the integrity bodies.
There isn’t even political double speak to justify not charging him.
This is a serious blight on justice in this State when one person, in this case, the Premier, it is claimed has no case to answer, so everybody else in the Red Shirts’ criminal endeavour escapes scrutiny.
In this case, even those who have confessed to a crime will not be prosecuted.
That is outrageous.
As it is laid bare, the ineptitude displayed by our Integrity bodies requires nothing less than the two principles to walk, and somebody with Integrity appointed to undertake the prosecutions thus far waived.
This whole edifice, as described by Glass, was bad enough, but how it was investigated and handled by the Integrity agencies is nothing short of disgraceful.
And Glass had the temerity and afront to suggest the police apologise to those Red Shirt operatives arrested; what a hide.
Even apologising for her failures to the State of Victoria will not save her bacon.
More parts to follow…
End note – Congratulations to VicPol for rejecting the pleas for an apology.
If the Fraud and Extortion Squad had been permitted to do their job, Victoria would have put this artifice behind a long time ago, and the Judiciary may have seen fit to have some of the key perpetrators enjoying Her Majesty’s pleasure.
24th July 2022
Safer exchange sites have been introduced to some Victoria Police Stations in metropolitan Melbourne’s northeast. A concept widely used overseas, but an idea of which most of us were unaware.
This is a significant and positive strategy Victoria Police has embarked on and is an example of good police proactive Service Delivery, addressing a community need and reducing opportunities for crime
The principle of the site is simple in its ethos but significant in improving Police service delivery and community safety. A place where the community can go to improve their safety in dealing with people they have not met but want to sell or purchase products sourced online.
Not only protecting people from crooks but discouraging crooks from selling hot property to innocent people.
New and innovative ideas are always encouraged and required in the evolution of our online lives. In this case, VicPol is ahead in the game.
Based on this concept, it would be wonderful if the idea could be extended to include estranged parents exchanging their children for visitation; that would be significant.
Those exchanges currently happen in a McDonald’s car park or a shopping centre, but how much better would it be for an estranged parent that had some fear to undertake the process at the Safer exchange site.
Serious consideration should be given to building on this initiative with nominal creative civil works at police stations to provide two or three parking bays off-road where possible, where people can go for access exchanges or when confronted with road rage or other threatening situations.
Currently, most parking spaces in front of Police stations are occupied by Police cars, so having a Safer Zone dedicated would be a great extension of service delivery.
We think the only negative to this program is that it is running as a trial where it has been trailed extensively overseas. It should be implemented State-wide as a matter of urgency – a trial is superfluous.
Trials are usually run to help leaders avoid exercising leadership decisions for which they may be held to account.
But well done, VicPol.
19th July 2022
“An Improper Investigation” and “Police misconduct a dark cloud over conviction” were two headlines in Herald Sun 1/8/2020 – and both were misleading. The real story lay in the small print:- “There appeared to be a culture of acceptance of the improper practices within the force.”
Therein lay the real evil bedevilling the Force:-
- acceptance of improper practices, even after they had been complained about;
- refusal to obey the dictates of the law and common leadership principles that complaints MUST be investigated; and
- repeated concealment of wrongdoing which, by default, encourages corrupt and/or criminal conduct.
So there ensued the cover-up of the “reprehensible conduct” related to Informer 3838, despite the laudable efforts of Sir Ken Jones to challenge and expose the “toxic and dysfunctional culture” within the Victoria Police Force.
IBAC found “even shredding of some statements were among the serious issues identified” – and yet IBAC had long refused to bother itself about other police who concealed a document that completely refuted their case against a defendant:-
During questioning of the defendant a detective handed him a computer printout showing that his computer user account had been enabled and successfully logged on before 9 am on a Monday morning, before the defendant had commenced work.. But then charged the defendant with the crime of illicitly enabling his own user account later that morning. The point that somebody else had done so – that the account was actually enabled before 9 am – was set aside in the officer’s quest for a scalp.
The police officer swore to having handed to the defendant all the documents shown to him at interview, but certainly did not hand over that critically exculpatory printout; it disappeared. Was it “shredded”? What possible legitimate motive could have existed for the police, not merely failing to disclose this document, but ignoring it and pretending it did not exist?
Mr. Redlich (IBAC Commissioner) “raised concerns (that) improper practices continue today” (in 2020); well IBAC should have acted when such practices were drawn to its attention in 2012 and 2013.
Despite having been then (2012-13) warned of this, its inactivity has apparently contributed to the very situation it deplored in 2020 – “a culture of acceptance of … improper practices within the force”; i.e. the situation which has reemerged in 2022.
At CAA we had expressed hope and confidence in the ability and willingness of the Chief Commissioner of Police, Mr. Patton, to overcome that toxic and dysfunctional culture. The latest events, however, suggest those sentiments were misplaced.
So Mr. Redlich now should look to the history of his own organisation. If he does he should recognise how its failure to investigate serious allegations of police corruption when they were brought to its attention – and dismissed summarily one the shadiest of irrelevant grounds – has undoubtedly contributed to the present state of affairs.
Something must be done by outsiders to forever break the habit of police apparently breaching their oath of office and the law, repeatedly oversighting “profound failure(s) of policing”, to quote Mr. Patton himself.
18th July 2022
In a democracy, the community rightly sees the Government as ultimately responsible for Law and Order; critical to that responsibility is the performance of the Police Force.
In this current election environment, you can bet that all political machines are watching the performance of VicPol. No doubt looking for any opportunity to maximise on or reduce exposure to, the impact of the community angst that has developed towards its Force.
The Tectonic plates of policing have been moving adversely within the Victoria Police Force for some time. However, it has become very obvious they have gathered momentum and are now moving rapidly towards an adverse outcome.
The elements necessary for a policing Tsunami are becoming evident as the litany of policing failures has built to where the Tsunami is not a possibility but an inevitability.
There seems to be no end to the flow of ineptitude and policing failures; we all just sit and wait for the inevitable next one.
Government and all politicians will be closely watching how VicPol responds to the latest failures in the investigation of the Silk-Miller Police murders and the impact that may have on their electoral fortunes.
The community will also be watching as their confidence in the police continues to wane.
Taken in isolation, many issues, would have of themselves have limited impact on public confidence, but the build-up of events is taking its toll, and the informed public will inevitably start demanding change.
Seeds of that miscontent are starting to germinate.
These matters all contribute to the current malaise,
- Gobbo affair – a wanton disregard of the legal process and riddled with alleged corrupt practices.
- Red Shirts – from media reports, apparent criminality not prosecuted. They are corrupting the Police Judiciary separation of powers. Abuse of the discretion of police common law powers. The discretion is not a prerogative of the Force but is vested in individual constables.
- Slug-Gate – has the hallmarks of deliberate avoidance of the responsibility of the police force – poor investigation hamstrung by interference and twisted loyalties of subordinates to achieve an outcome palatable to the police command and to protect public figures.
- Politicians Travel rorts – just because somebody is a politician does not give them a free pass by police to commit criminal acts, but apparently, in Victoria, it does.
- Bourke Street massacre – one of the most inept police operations in modern policing history where police command failed to take charge, and six Victorians lost their lives as a result. Unfortunately, this command failure has been whitewashed.
- Executive misconduct – there have been examples of executive misconduct that arguably were criminal in nature, however, the executives were not charged, and their guilt or innocence determined by a Court, they resigned. This is completely inconsistent with how non-executive police are treated, even for minor infractions.
- Hotel Quarantine security guard’s debacle– how Victoria Police could equivocate and avoid the responsibility of securing the Quarantine of Hotels in the initial emergency and most critical stages of the COVID outbreak. Arguably contributing to eight hundred deaths is beyond contemptible, but that has also conveniently received the whitewash treatment.
- Corruption failures– Corruption is rampant in many sectors, and there is no evidence that the criminality involved is being addressed by VicPol, presumably leaving it to ‘him over there.’ You can blame who you like, but nothing will change until VicPol gets serious and starts instigating criminal proceedings against blatant criminal corruption.
- COVID Demonstrations–
- Shooting demonstrators How any justification can be spun up to justify the use of shotguns firing bean bag rounds into demonstrators is beyond us; this behaviour borders on a criminal act.
- O/C Spay Likewise, justification for dousing demonstrators with O/C Spray when they were running away seems indefensible- they were running away, for gods sake!
- Handcuffing a young mum in front of her children in Ballarat because of online posts will always be up there as a disgraceful act. Rationalising that the female was in the kitchen, a place where she had access to weapons, is just ludicrous without any overt act or previous form that would create any risk.
- Chasing demonstrators seems an odd police tactic – fine if you are going to arrest a perpetrator, but if demonstrators are running away, what is the point or logic in chasing them? What was to happen if they were caught?
- Corralling demonstrators- another strange counterintuitive tactic of herding demonstrators into a confined area and then tightening the police- line when the object of reducing the spread of COVID is, as we know, the distance between people.
- Snatching a phone of an elderly woman had no justification and was a breach of discipline by the police member. Still, we do not know if that member was held to account – it would have been interesting to know where he thought he might have gotten his justification.
- Service delivery- the area of most significant concern for Victorians and the lack thereof, has impacted a very large percentage of them. They are rightly aggrieved; Police Stations closed, police unwilling or unable to respond (Call ramping) and aggravated by police who are despondent or disinterested if they do respond, all signs of a damaged workforce.
No good blaming the rank and file but lift your eyes to see where the problem lies.
- Police welfare – impacting substantially on the item above the departure of competent police due to stress or related illnesses in very large part created by poor management and the workload being disproportionally spread in the workforce. The exodus is twofold, one string heading out of policing due to mental health and the other exodus internal into non-frontline tasks.
- Pillaging Police Stations – for human resources to appease media attention. Because an incident or series of incidents are given media exposure, the nett effect of making the best out of Police Stations to address these issues is counterintuitive. Fewer Police at police stations equates to more problems gaining media attention. A performance spiral.
- Endemic evidence tampering – This behaviour it would seem has become an entrenched operating procedure for investigators in certain areas of Policing. That it appears book ended by events in 1998 and 2022 it is clearly endemic and wide-spread. There are a number of Senior Police Officers who have been promoted over those two decades who would have to be aware, if not involved in these unlawful acts and yet they have done nothing to stem the behaviour.
- The Silk Miller Murder trial was corrupted by the unlawful action of police investigators in tampering with evidence, Perverting the Course of Justice.
- While the Silk Miller murders occurred in the late 90’s, the culmination (the bit that counts) of the investigation was in the early 2000s. It is alleged up to five statements were rewritten, and originals disposed of. Serious criminality by Police with multiple evidence tampering and conspiracy offences not pursued.
- Not confined to the 2000s coercing or causing statements to be altered is still happening at a 2022 trial where, fortunately, the police member who was coerced into altering his statement a mind-numbing seven (7) times by senior police self-reported the act to the Court. The jury acquitted the accused, or otherwise, a rerun of the Jason Roberts saga would be with us.
That nobody has been held to account for Perverting the Course of Justice and the associated conspiracies is a disgrace. This was a high-profile case so the executive would have been fully aware. Their failure in supervision/management is breathtaking and staggering.
- Lack of police transparency- VicPol is always encouraging the community to give it information but try the reverse and get information from Police. It is not uncommon for the estimated time for a Freedom of Information request to be in the order of six months. If you try to challenge this at VCAT, VicPol will do legal somersaults to avoid compliance. We are aware of Supreme Court requests being treated in the same way – Hubris.
Perhaps we all should encourage everybody to take an example from VicPol and provide them with their information in six months?
The common thread of all these issues is a failure of Command and Control where the police executive fail in their duty – the first and most significant example which Victorians have never forgotten was the performance of Chief Commissioner Nixon while Victorians died in the Black Saturday fires –we allege that is the starting point of the collapse of Command and Control and executive responsibility within VicPol. Yet, Nixon was not sanctioned for a gross breach of executive responsibility, and no executive has faced criminal charges, irrespective of what they were alleged to have done since. They are not held to account or required to justify or apologise for Victoria Police missteps; this is unadulterated unhealthy- Hubris.
There has also been a string of thoroughly decent and competent Police who have been shown the metaphoric door for non-compliance with a new order which avoids responsibility and accountability. Many are disciplined for trivia.
Any normal grown-up organisation would be embarrassed to take drastic disproportionate steps for minor infractions, highlighting as it does management deficiencies and incompetence, but this is VicPol, that suffers an acute form of- Hubris.
These are the critical issues that the public demands their police force urgently addresses.
Alternatively, an inquiry to provide strategies to correct the current demise is not only warranted but inevitable.
16th July 2022
The acquittal of Jason Roberts for the murders of Senior Constable Rodney Miller and Sergeant Garry Silk in 1998 is disappointing, but the part that rips at our guts is that the acquittal was achieved because it would seem, the ineptitude of investigators, not much else.
How could such an important, or for that matter, any case be subjected to the errors that this brief contained?
We suspect some will be held to account, but the real culprits, senior management, will not be tarred with that brush; low-hanging fruit will be the scapegoats.
Tampering with evidence is an absolute no, in any circumstances, and irrespective of the crime, there is never a justification.
It would seem the necessary elements of Perverting the Course of Justice exist in this matter. A Common Law offence with a codified maximum penalty of twenty-five years in the Crimes Act, indicates the seriousness of how this type of behaviour is viewed.
Every detective and police member knows this. So fundamental and absolute is this rule and the consequences, that denial of its existence by any police member is indefensible.
Additionally, those same police, are well aware of the process should a witness, due to circumstances, wish to change their statement. That is not an offence, but there are procedures to follow.
It would be helpful if the Chief were to condemn the tampering of evidence publicly to attempt to regain some credibility for the Force with a public apology to the State and the families of the two members who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The families of the slain members, serving and former police, having to carry the ignominy of the failures of the Victoria Police is beyond reprehensible.
There is palpable anger over the incompetence in this case.
The old saying, we all bleed blue, is a truism in this case, with the vast majority of serving and former police sharing the pain with the slain members’ families.
If policing cannot get it right when their own are slain, what hope for the rest of the community?
The handling of this case has severely damaged community confidence in the Victoria Police as an Organisation already reeling from a number of missteps in recent years. This latest just made policing just that much harder.
Some of us in our early careers were exposed to old-timers who saw the end justifies the means as legitimate Policing. For many of us, that was an uncomfortable concept, but it now appears evident that this outdated and wrong culture has crept back into policing in Victoria.
That can only happen if management is inept.
We strongly suspect this was bought in predominately by external senior appointments and was able to take hold because of bad management practices, also imported.
It is in this environment that spawned a flawed culture that these issues occurred.
It is hoped lessons have been learnt and lateral entry to senior roles is never contemplated again. We hope that our community leaders cannot be that dumb not to learn from the litany of errors foisted upon us by imports.
The problem has evolved over the last couple of decades, where any action to achieve a conviction is acceptable. This flies directly in the face of the principles of good investigations.
Moreover, in part, it puts policing above the law.
A notion rejected by the overwhelming majority of serving police and those who have served.
To blame a few rogue detectives is a nonsense; this concept is a cultural one that senior managers have not addressed, and it is they who are responsible.
A Royal Commission is now being touted as justified because of the failure and ineptitude of Policing in Victoria as an organisation.
There have been a plethora of incidents over recent years that are building pressure for action to be taken.
VicPol has not challenged this growing body of justification for an inquiry, so we can only assume that the police executives are resigned to the inevitability of a review of some type.
A Royal Commission, however, in our view, is not the answer as the answer lies within VicPol itself.
Nothing will change until one or more Senior Executives are held to account and suffer the consequence of their ineptitude.
It is incredulous that some of those involved in the Gobbo debacle still hold senior positions in VicPol, and elsewhere, enabling their incompetence, or more disastrous their policing values, to be further promulgated.
This raises the question of what some inept, incompetent managers must do to be held to account.
It seems whatever they like, it just won’t happen.
The reality is that many who have acted corruptly in the Gobbo matters will have retired and accessed their comfortable Superannuation by the time charges are made. Culprits will not face court as police, effectively shifting the responsibility from VicPol.
Draining the executive swamp is one alternative, but fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, there are a number of executives whose services are of considerable value.
The ball, however, is now squarely in the Chief Commissioner’s court.
His response will determine whether the Government is forced by public pressure to hold an inquiry or Commission.
There is a growing air of inevitability.