National Police Remembrance Day 2022 – 3AW Interview with Wayne Gatt

National Police Remembrance Day 2022 – 3AW Interview with Wayne Gatt

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

MEASURING POLICE IS PUBLIC PROPERTY

MEASURING POLICE IS PUBLIC PROPERTY

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.”

  • Abraham Lincoln

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.

Leadership!

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.

VICTORIA POLICE – THE ROAD TO RECOVERY

VICTORIA POLICE – THE ROAD TO RECOVERY

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.’

VICTORIA POLICE CORPORATE PLAN   2022-2023

VICTORIA POLICE CORPORATE PLAN 2022-2023

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.

OPERATION WATTS Analysis part 7 – Whistle-blowers, Conspiracy, Perverting the course of Justice, Watts has it all.

OPERATION WATTS Analysis part 7 – Whistle-blowers, Conspiracy, Perverting the course of Justice, Watts has it all.

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.

Policing in Victoria 2022

Policing in Victoria 2022

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.

OPERATION WATTS Analysis part 6 – The Premiers Evidence

OPERATION WATTS Analysis part 6 – The Premiers Evidence

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[1] 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.

[1]

OPERATION WATTS PART 5- Public examinations

OPERATION WATTS PART 5- Public examinations

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.

OPERATION WATTS -PART 4 – Equality before the Law.

OPERATION WATTS -PART 4 – Equality before the Law.

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.

Inequality

  • 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…

OPERATION WATTS PART 3 – DPP ignored

OPERATION WATTS PART 3 – DPP ignored

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.

OPERATION WATTS PART 2- Rule of Law broken

OPERATION WATTS PART 2- Rule of Law broken

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.

OPERATION WATTS PART 1 – Unintended revelations

OPERATION WATTS PART 1 – Unintended revelations

Red Shirts + Grey Corruption = Whitewash

OPERATION WATTS

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.

 

WHAT A GREAT INITIATIVE

WHAT A GREAT INITIATIVE

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.

 

IMPROPER INVESTIGATION

IMPROPER INVESTIGATION

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.

POLICE TSUNAMI IS INEVITABLE

POLICE TSUNAMI IS INEVITABLE

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.

See https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/policeman-who-shot-james-gargasoulas-cleared-of-assault-on-student-20220613-p5at7d.html

  • 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.

Who let Miller and Silk down?

Who let Miller and Silk down?

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.

A VICTORIA POLICE EMERGENCY

A VICTORIA POLICE EMERGENCY

12th July 2022

On many issues, the CAA is in lockstep with the Police Association (TPAV), but sometimes that step is out of kilter a little bit, as is the case with the TPAV recent announcement as a solution to the dire staffing levels at Police Stations,

 ‘New police numbers, together with MOU to send police back into stations’.

The research that the TPAV has done is identical to the feedback that the CAA has received about the appalling situations in many stations that are just unable to perform their critical functions because of staff shortages.

This is not just a COVID problem; although it has exaggerated the issue, it was evident before the pandemic.

The common issue is that on paper, the staff levels seem solid until you drill down to the actual availability of the members of a station to perform station duties.

The stations cannot maintain patrols, and closing a Police Station for a shift is now a regular occurrence across the state.

Pleas for help from the community are ramped; sound familiar.

The appalling reality is that the delivery of reactive services are failing and any hope of even basic proactive policing remains a dream.

Where we are out of step with the TPAV is the solution.

For all those members who are doing it tough with a never-ending cycle of night and other less palatable shifts because there is nobody else to do them, the two-year wait for extra numbers and the TPAV meeting with VicPol twice a year is hardly encouraging or even looks like a solution; a bit of kicking the can down the road at best.

Looking at what has been done, it is actually nothing.

The TPAV supports, as we do, a move to preventing crime as a priority. Still, there is no hope of fulfilling this objective unless a solution to the staffing problem is found rather than the protracted, possible, maybe approach accepted by the TPAV. They were sold a pup.

Our greatest concern, equal in importance to service delivery capability, is the welfare of members. Those members left at stations carrying an unfair workload will continue to fall, succumbing to health issues, including burnout.

Standing by while members are falling is not in our DNA.

The current number of members counted on station rosters who require flexible or part-time arrangements will continue to escalate and is the primary cause of the problem. The TPAV did not seem to address this issue.

We are aware of one station, and there are many like it, where ten members, or a third of their staff, are on flexible hours, making them unavailable for specific shifts and duties. But they are shown on the roster as full-time members.

It is no small feat balancing, Maternity, Paternity, Annual, Special, Military,  Study, Sick and Long Service leave impacts and family commitments on a Station Roster. Still, when that is exacerbated to the degree of adversely affecting the ability of the police station to provide a modicum of service delivery, the problem is dire.

Meetings, plans and forward projections will not alleviate the inevitable continued decline of station staff numbers and, as a consequence, the ineffective policing of the state.

Hand wringing is theatre, not a result.

The much-lorded Capability Plan has turned out to be a dud, but as we said at its launch, it had pretty pictures.

If the plan worked, how come the capability position is as it currently is?

As more members burn out, the numbers seeking either sick leave, flexible hours or part-time work will increase; this phenomenon has built inertia that will exponentially grow.

Meetings and promises that may be achieved in two years are all things the hard-working members have heard before; they need the confidence that the issues will be addressed now.

This problem is an emergency, and if action is not taken immediately, expect a further decline to where VicPol is theoretically insolvent in Service delivery, unable to repay the debt it owes society.

We call on the Chief Commissioner to establish an Inspectorate to address the staffing issue at Police Stations, among other administrative problems.

The first and urgent role of the Inspectorate is to identify members in positions who can be seconded back to Police Stations in exchange for members whose time availability is compromised.

No part of VicPol should be quarantined from this process.

This process will be unpopular with some members, but the overwhelming majority of members currently carrying excessive workloads are entitled to the consideration.

We are not proposing altering current arrangements with individual members, just their work location and function.

This is a significant staffing reset; however, it is critical if the force is to retain staff and reduce the impact of burnout. The focus up until now has been on the rights or work-life issues of those who seek special conditions.

We have no difficulty with that concept; however, it is time to move the pendulum back to protecting the police who protect us, and they should receive the full support of VicPol and all Victorians. Their welfare is also a priority.

To be effective, the Inspectorate has to be independent of any line authority that may impact or try to influence its work, and it must be pragmatic. Hence, the Inspectorate Commander must report directly to the Chief Commissioner.

This radical plan is not a total solution but may set benchmarks to avoid the current level of difficulty replicating in the future.

There is nothing new in this dramatic approach. New South Wales Police had a problem with a dearth of experience in the metropolitan area, although that is where the most crime and disorder was. The experienced police had vacated to the country, and a major realignment of personnel was carried out to bring experienced members back into the areas of most need.

When faced with extraordinary problems, it requires extraordinary solutions, and this issue must be addressed before any more members crash- this is a Victoria Police emergency.

Safe injecting room – gang cartel connection?

Safe injecting room – gang cartel connection?

10th July 2022

The so-called ‘safe injecting’ rooms are just part of the evil problem of drug  addiction and the long-term physical and mental health issues that the Government is not prepared to tackle.

The CAA has long advocated targeting the business models that the drug trade, particularly the Bikie and Middle Eastern Drug cartels rely on, and do not depend solely on enforcement with outdated, ineffective laws.

Consider where the customers of the injecting rooms get their illicit and dangerous drugs; in the main street dealers. Where do the street dealers get the filthy drugs from, bikie and middle eastern crime gangs?

It is a complex business model with dangerous workplace issues,  such as being shot, bashed or overdosed (Hot Shot).   The Government turns a blind eye to this, often celebrating the questionable success of the safe injecting rooms. The claim of success is reducing calls to ambulances. That claim acknowledges that the rooms do not mitigate the problem or improve the likely rehabilitation of addicts.

The other claim of reducing overdoses and possible deaths only relates to the small percentage of addicts/users who use the facilities, not the broader drug community.

It was not that long ago that injecting room staff were convicted of drug trafficking?

It is not a spurious argument that the Government is complicit in the drug trade, which may explain the inaction?

Interestingly the drug Cartel business model has taken a dire turn; they are now shooting at each other in a turf war. Inevitably innocent public will become collateral damage.

Whilst the Government looks at other locations for injecting rooms to appease the suffering residents of Richmond, which has now been turned into a thoroughly depressing and disgusting place.  Witnesses report to us addicts defecating in Victoria Street, the main thoroughfare, and this is part of Melbourne, a most livable city?

So the wicked problem continues without accurate statistics supporting its continuation and without broad thinking about the other impacts on government services.

It does, however, raise the question of the nexus between the Governments inaction and the growth of the drug Cartels in this State.

The Bikie gangs did not move south for the weather.

We are not alleging a direct link between the Cartels and the Government, but the Cartels would very favourably view those pushing for safe injecting rooms. Whether that translates to direct or indirect succour needs investigating.

We now have another eighty police, in addition to the already established Task Forces; Echo is but one, focused on bikies and middle eastern gangs who now chose to shoot at each other; that is just the tip of an iceberg.

The CAA calls for a commission into where the drugs come from.

It is time for the politicians to educate themselves and not be led by the nose because of their naivety.

It is easy to test sample drugs from the clients at the injecting rooms to compare that to drug seizures from+ middle eastern crime gangs and bikie gangs.

If truth be known, the Government already knows from wastewater (sewage) testing; they just do not make it public.

Let there be some truth about the drug impact, no more lies.

How many young women and men are being prostituted?

  • How many kids are being traumatised by violence at home?
  • How many police are now focused on bikies rather than community safety?
  • How many Domestic disputes have a drug component?
  • How many fewer druggies do we have in Victoria because of the injecting room?
  • How many of the homeless have drug addiction issues?
  • How many have mental health issues from drugs?

Drugs like gambling and prostitution are wicked problems, but when Government looks for remedies to wicked problems, they tend to select the path of least resistance.

Perhaps the first move is to educate the politicians. They should first spend time in the vicinity of the Richmond room (after hours) before opening another and visit the drug factories in the suburbs to see how the cartels are making drugs, accessing precursor ingredients and then selling them for use in the injecting rooms.

When addicts start defecating in Flinders Street (proposed new injecting room site), the Government may at last take notice.

Interestingly the announcement of that new site’s suitability is delayed until after the election. If it is so good, why wait?

Let’s have the new injecting room in the dining room of Parliament House instead of Flinders Street. At least there are no pre-schools around the area and no community amenity to disrupt.

Déjà Vu – look out bikes, again.

Déjà Vu – look out bikes, again.

7th July 2022

The announcement by the Chief Commissioner of a new task force, Viper, to tackle outlaw motor-cycle gangs had a familiar ring but hopefully a better outcome than a previous attempt.

Even so, some similarities are a worry.

In 2013 Chief Commissioner Ken Lay announced, under the headline

TOP COP’S WARNS OUTLAW BIKIES, ‘WE HAVE A GANG TOO’

Lay announced that a ‘hard-nosed investigator Superintendent Brett Guerin was to take over the Razon Task Force, “Take on the Bikies”.

Targeting the Night Club industry, the only reference we could find was that Task Force charged three Bikies with selling Alcohol without a license.

It was reported that Superintendent Guerin is a man with an engaging laugh and a quick wit. Mr Lay has identified him as the right man for the job.

The lilt of one’s laughter and wit seem strange attributes for a Bikie gangbuster.

Lay failed to say or had not found out that Guerin was the infamous Vernon Demerest and Clive Howlett- Jones, two of the most infamous foul-mouthed nom de plume racist trolls who could best be described as extreme right-wing fascists on social media—allegedly using police computers to troll.

The head of the Professional Standards Command, as an Assistant Commissioner, his career ended abruptly when he was exposed as a troll.

The similarities with Viper, however, do not relate to the character of the police in charge but the comparison of the Government actions for both Razon and Viper.

The Legislation does not match the Bikie creed of extreme violence to achieve their objectives, so being unable to deal with the Bikies in the traditional way aTask Force would seem the only alternative.

To cover the Governments’ failings to legislate enabling powers for police, here we are nine years after Razon, faced with the same issues and the same Government without lessons learned.

We fear the problem will be just as bad in another decade, and Viper will not have been the magic bullet the politicians hoped would avoid them having to do their job.

Sometimes we wonder if our community leaders are ‘in awe’,infatuated’ or ‘afraid’ of the Bikie culture, making them unprepared to tackle it.

It is ironic that the drugs that swill through the Safe Injecting Rooms are most probably  sourced via the Bikie Gang networks, make of that as you will.

The Government again resists to tackle the issue properly, and as in 2013, it will all be left to the police to try to resolve with one hand tied behind their back. And if they fail, guess whose fault it will be – the Poilce?

If the Government and community leaders are serious, the Legislation in America called Rico-Law enacted in 1970 would be a good template to start. It is very successful in combating organised crime, which regular Legislation fails to do.

Those Lawmakers understood the tentacles of organised crime, which this law addresses and is not available in traditional Legislation.

The exodus of bikies and organised crime from Interstate to Victoria was not solely because of the efforts of interstate Police or any lack of effort by Victorian Police. It was the Legislation, or lack thereof, in Victoria.

One question we ponder, is we have been sold the value of the Echo Task Force that has existed for some time as an anti-bikie operation; why do we need another Task Force?

This Government failure will cost us.

This Government inaction has taken eighty police from the front line protecting us to focus on a problem that the Government, it seems, is not at all interested in resolving.

It is simply not good enough to take any police from the frontline, General Duties and the Road policing areas in particular, as they are already under-resourced dramatically, this directly and adversely impacts us.

When you call the police, and they do not come, or the road toll soars, you will know why.

Crime will always escalate when the Policing function at the grassroots is compromised.

Perhaps some may be replaced, but that will inevitably by recruits, in the fullness of time, a euphemism for ‘maybe whenever’.

These newbies will not have the mentoring of more senior and experienced peers to learn from to keep us safe and, just as importantly, keep them safe in a dangerous occupation – the experienced are all in the Task Forces.

This bikie culture is attractive to those inclined, so why do we immortalise them when in reality, they are predominantly Middle Eastern Crime gangs and Crime families, in part using the Bikie culture as a front for extortion and protection. The Bikie image built by the media serves them well in the extortion rackets.

It would be helpful if the media took some responsibility.

It is time to provide the horsepower for policing at both ends, starving these organisations of their most valuable resource, members, by focusing on the feeder youth and targeting the support mechanisms organised crime relies on with Rico-Law.

For the feeder youths, where diversion does not work, incarceration for a period when they are young may avert their direction in life.

We all abhor the idea of incarcerating young people and the argument that it is counter-intuitive to acceptable social norms we would like to support.

Based, however, on lived experiences, this does not always work.

The solution is yet to be found, but nobody is seriously looking, least of all our community leaders.

This issue must be pragmatically examined as a matter of urgency, or in a few years, another Task Force to deal with a problem that police have not been able to resolve for a decade will be created.

The first step is for the Government to take responsibility and ownership of the problem- then do something about it.

WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU?

27th June 2022

With about eighteen thousand sworn Police in Victoria, the question of ‘where are you?’, is totally legitimate.

The Community Advocacy Alliance Inc. (CAA) has received numerous complaints about the lack of service to Victorians by VicPol.

Complaints range from police simply not being visible generally, to police stations being closed, to non-attendance of police to incidents, and calls for help from the public, and too few foot and mobile patrols.

This phenomenon is exacerbated by a complete apathy to their task by many police, particularly at Police Stations. The most egregious complaints relate to laziness and the lack of interest of police members, failing to even make a basic effort to police. In many cases, police do not even make excuses.

The answer is complex and multifaceted, but when one looks at NSW, a State that is geographically three and a half times larger than Victoria and has approximately two million more citizens with two thousand fewer police. The police there seem to be achieving remarkable results, if it is purely a numbers game.

Perhaps it is not the numbers but how they are used.

All the much-heralded increases in police numbers in Victoria have not seen an increase in the quality of Service Delivery experienced by the community.

Thankfully, there are still many dedicated and effective police looking after us. To them, we are greatly indebted, but their efforts are often thwarted by the less than enthusiastic, lazy, or just plain apathetic colleagues.

Competent police continually having to work more of the less than desirable shifts carrying the bulk of the workload while their apathetic colleagues receive the same allowances and benefits will eventually wear down the most committed who are likely to move to the other side for their mental survival.

Apathy is contagious; this easier option can eventually sway the most dedicated.

Major issues faced by the inability of the police to perform their task are structural and cultural by nature and feed the apathy epidemic sweeping the force.

These issues are not limited to but include,

  • Service delivery

From outside the organisation, it appears that Service Delivery has been transposed with Service Efficiency.

  • Training

The demise of much of the face-to-face learning based on a false argument of efficiency has compromised the effectiveness of training. The efficiency is questionable, but all the non-formal tangibles of face-to-face training are lost. This reduces training effectiveness and the capacity of police to compare themselves to their peers, an invaluable benefit. Competition is healthy.

Too much reliance on online training provides the apathetic with an excuse to hide on a computer (training) and is counterproductive to a good Police Force.

  • Police mobile patrols

As far as the CAA resources would allow, it has been established that many Police Stations are only capable of maintaining Night Shift Patrols that are numerically the same as thirty years ago. Additionally, with the new policies around Domestic Violence reports that take a minimum of four hours per incident (often longer), many areas are left at night with no patrol capacity.
Any wonder the community feels unsafe.

  • Task Forces

Including all other special efforts or dedicated Policing groups is the antithesis of good policing. Each of these groups and there is a need for some, highlights a Police failure. The crime should have been prevented in the first place. Task Forces or similar groups are routinely inefficient in a global sense. The staffing of these groups has to come from somewhere, and that usually means the General Duties Police, further reducing their capacity to prevent crime, so the vicious cycle perpetually expands.

Management finds it easy to set up a task group but not so easy to shut it down as the staff become comfortable in that environment, explaining why many groups last for years.

  • Poor supervision

This failure extends far into the rank structure and is a significant contributor. Police Managers are not held to proper account for staff failings, a major flaw and an area where blame-shifting is endemic. Lazy managers create lazy subordinates.

 

The bottom line is that the organisation has turned its back on its core function and motto, “Tenez le Droit” (Uphold the right).

 

These are just a sample of the issues identified by the CAA as significant contributors to the failure of policing in Victoria.

 

The CAA is concerned that unless a pragmatic and realistic approach is taken to these and other issues, the decline in Policing will accelerate.

 

As if we as a community needed more pressure from crime.

THE NON-LETHAL BEAN BAG MYTH

6th of June 2022

Recently the Community Advocacy Alliance Inc. (CAA) criticised the use by Victoria Police of Bean Bag projectiles in crowd control. We stand by that criticism. https://caainc.org.au/bean-bags-and-plastic-baton-munitions-are-not-the-way-for-crowd-control/

In our view, they must never be deployed in crowd control situations like in Elizabeth Street and the Shrine during COVID related demonstrations or where people are undergoing psychotic episodes. And then only when all other avenues are exhausted, and there is an imminent danger to Police or others.

It has been alleged that many Police were injured in these demonstrations, hence the justification for Bean Bag munitions.

If they were, it had more to do with poor or ineffective Command and Control leaving Police vulnerable. There was substantial evidence on the nightly news that Command and Control were regularly failing, and when it does, that is when most Police are injured.

The police executives are singularly and solely responsible.

The Victoria Police has a sophisticated surveillance capacity and can live stream detailed action to a command center in real-time. But unfortunately, the executives either didn’t bother to look or didn’t recognise the failings unfolding before them and how to deal with them, incompetency.

Repeat performances showed that they clearly took no action. But it is unclear if the Bean Bag use was authorised or who authorised their deployment.

As with the Bourke Street massacre there appears to be a deliberate policy for the Executive Command not to take a leadership role. With the plethora of executive level Officers in VicPol, surely the lessons would have been learnt from Bourke Street and any number of other Police incidents that effective Operational Command and Control is essential and delegating that responsibility totally to the lowest ranks is a unacceptable and an abrogation of responsibility.

The Elizabeth Street foray was not a few random shots but allegedly sustained and repetitious fire of many rounds, a yippee shoot requiring additional ammunition to be sourced.

Bean Bag projectiles are munitions that can cause serious injury, with the possibility of fatal consequences.

They are not simply a corduroy shoe polisher filled with beans instead of fabric. They are twelve-gauge shotgun cartridges with nine-shot lead pellets and various other materials depending on the brand of the round used.

Marketed by suppliers as non-lethal, they can only be described, at best, as potentially less lethal; they are serious munitions.

The graphic photographs depicted here show just how dangerous these projectiles are and the damage that can be caused to one person by just three rounds of the six fired, reinforcing that these rounds are wildly inaccurate, making unintended outcomes a severe risk.

The extreme danger of the proximity to major organs and arteries cannot be discounted.

Leg wound

Leg wound

Post op arm wound                              

 

Nearly 100 pellets removed from the arm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stomach wound.

While the incident resulting in these wounds was not crowd control related, the physical harm suffered by the individual concerned, who was heavily intoxicated and undergoing a psychotic episode, amply illustrates the recklessness of using Bean Bag munitions as the go-to weapon.

Victoria Snelgrove, a twenty-two-year-old student bystander to a Boston demonstration, was shot in the eye with a bean bag round and died shortly after. The Officer involved claimed he was aiming at somebody else.

Victoria Stengrove

 

https://www.police1.com/police-products/less-lethal/projectiles-launchers/articles/emtragedy-in-bostonem-the-impact-projectile-death-of-victoria-snelgrove-pOAEJHNfvAivymNj/

We also reject the defence of the use of bean bags when dealing with patients undergoing a psychotic episode, that psych services are not readily available in the real world of policing; this is an operational reality that management must address and resolve.

Standard operating procedures mean Police are often screaming at a suspect for compliance, which exacerbates any psychotic episode. We accept that Police do not always know if a suspect has the propensity for such outbursts, but part of the police procedure should be to make an effort to find out.

Although it is not always practical, expeditious resolution of an issue where nobody is in direct threat of harm should not be the objective. Instead, the safe resolution for the Police, the community, and the patient/perpetrator must be the primary consideration.

Most importantly, Executive Officers, theoretically the most experienced and capable, often do not assume command in serious incidents; why not?

This is yet another example of where the Executive is letting down the Operational members by not ensuring they are adequately resourced and supported. In these operational matters, a lack of psych resources and effective command and control could be the difference between life or death for the Police or the patient.

Police must be satisfied that all other available resources, including de-escalation techniques and Mental Health Services, are deployed before using these weapons.

The use of containment, not engagement, must be the first option.

The CAA again calls on the Victoria Police to review their policy on the use of potentially lethal weapons where Police members or others are not at imminent life-threatening risk.

On the matter of policy, and to properly inform, we have made a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to view the current policy on using these munitions. The information is not operationally sensitive and should be within the knowledge of the community.

We have been told that the information requested will not be available within the statutory four weeks but hopefully within twenty-seven weeks.

Over six months is a deliberate strategy designed to make inquiries disappear or lose relevance.

If they cannot be dealt with in the four weeks, then it is another management failure by VicPol, and nothing will change until the responsible Executive is held to account, not some clerk.

RULE, LETS THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG ON SLUG-GATE

RULE, LETS THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG ON SLUG-GATE

1st June 2022

Andrew Rule, in his Herald Sun article 22nd of May 2022, ‘Was ‘slug-gate’ a slimy trick to divert public money?”. Has well and truly, let the ‘cat out of the bag.’

https://omny.fm/shows/life-and-crimes-with-andrew-rule/the-slug-gate-saga-deepens#description

This is the most egregious and far-reaching corrupt enterprise to be uncovered in this State.

There will be many very nervous people in the Health Department, Police, Local Government, and a couple of politicians who will face awkward questions about corrupt behaviours. As will the Auditor General, the State financial watchdog, who will need to answer some confronting questions about his efficacy, as he was across the ‘Community Chef’ books showing the failures effectively from the start.

The big question is how did he not detect insolvency.

This is all about a meticulously contrived plan hatched to create a cash cow for recipients not yet revealed.

Simply set up a catering business with government funds in the aged care and hospital food supply chain. The owners of the enterprise ‘Community Chef’, local government, and the Health Department can also be the major customer base.

They also happen to be the industry’s regulators, so the few competitors in this specialised area would rapidly drop off.

The equivalent of having ‘Hungry Jacks’ regulate McDonald’s, what could go wrong? Especially if you disregard gross conflict of interest and criminal conspiracies.

The significant job losses by closing these businesses is an oxymoron to the rationale of establishing ‘Community Chef, to create jobs. The net effect was overall job losses in this sector, one of the most significant smoke and mirrors acts ever perpetrated on the Victorian public

The plan started to look shaky when not all the players in the catering field followed the script. Instead, their nemesis became ICooks, who steadfastly refused to acquiesce to the conspirator’s grand plan. And year after year, ‘Community Chef’ continued to need more cash injections than ever to keep afloat. A basket case enterprise of epic proportions.

The architects of the conspiracy, now with concern almost panic for the future of ‘Community Chef’, moved into arguably illegal actions to achieve their objectives to stave off insolvency, which was arguably evident and covered up for many years.

One of the strongest motivators for the conspirators was the technology that ICooks had developed.

Texture modified food is a technique of processing food, modifying the texture, and then presenting it in its original form. Designed to replace the vitamised muck that people unable to eat solid food have traditionally endured.

When the conspirators launched their offensive against ICooks, we believe it was no coincidence that I Cooks were well advanced in securing a series of multi-Million-dollar contracts for their technology locally and internationally.

The value of this business was heading towards the triple-figure million-dollar levels. Yet, all the contracts ready to complete, worth somewhere north of $20 million, were cancelled because of local government and State bureaucrats interventions. As a result, homegrown technology that was in demand by the world’s markets was lost.

If ICooks could be forced into liquidation, the conspirators could pick up the patents at a bargain price, and the future of the ‘Community Chef’ as a cash cow would be assured. ICooks never liquidated.

The ubiquitous and converted main prize in the game was lost to Community Chef.

‘Community Chef’ has now gone owing millions, absorbed with all its debts by the Health Department currently claiming under-resourcing for health failures in this State. Perhaps spending more wisely would help their current crisis.

The conspirator’s intelligence was a bit like Russia’s intel on Ukraine. They underestimated the resolve of their enemy. Ian Cook refused to quietly accede to the market pressure created by the conspirators. This forced the conspirators to resort to risky strategies, like slugs, to achieve their aims

Amongst ICooks supporters are two retired detectives who have worked pro bono for over two years, putting together volumes of intelligence and evidence in this case. Their dossier exposes conspiracies and a raft of other criminal activities.

The two detectives achieved what the responsible Government entities did not bother, or could not do, to see off this artifice called ‘Community Chef’ and sever the money pipeline that bled the company of millions.

The location of the other end of that pipeline is pretty evident to all involved in this matter. The detectives are now working on converting intelligence gathered into evidence.

The ex-detectives helping ICooks, have lost none of their skills. Although retired you can take police out of policing but not their loyalty to their oath, which is innate.

Slug-gate is heading inextricably and rapidly towards the ‘bring down’ of the perpetrators, their minions, and Kama for the victims.

The infamous Red Shirts Rorts, still being investigated (we think), pales into insignificance. The taxpayer was rorted for $388k, compared to the Slug-gate scandal, which is circa $50 million at a minimum—ultimately heading closer to $100m.

From the first briefing, the Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) received the CAA formed the view that this was a profoundly serious criminal matter of epic proportions. Further briefings reinforced the initial evaluation.

The failures by responsible agencies are numerous, and the individuals are sure to be exposed.

At the top of the list must be the Auditor General’s Office, who was across the ‘Community Chef’ books but either did not understand what they were looking at, incompetence, or something else.

Not far behind is Victoria Police, who we suspect, given the average lack of knowledge within Policing of corporate operations and governance, did not recognise the issue’s magnitude. However, elements within VicPol who did know acted corruptly.

IBAC has also been very tardy. Given that their inability to investigate the matter was claimed to be manpower, the offer from the CAA of a number of former detectives to investigate on behalf of IBAC pro bono was rejected.

The Slug-gate artifice is a huge issue with tentacles reaching far and wide; this probably understates the reality.

Once the scabs are torn back, what will be revealed will be monumental, leading right to the door of the most powerful leaders in the land.

We strongly encourage Andrew Rule and others to continue to investigate and expose the treacherous conspirators and their criminal misdeeds.

WE NEED YOUR HELP

WE NEED YOUR HELP

15th of May 2022

The CAA has been operating for over seven years, predominantly funded (90%) by the contribution of membership fees.

We are now entering an election phase in the States political cycle, and we know that the issues we have championed have a better chance of support when politicians are focused on an election.

Preceding the last election, the CAA exhausted its funds on promoting the various CAA causes via social media, and we propose a similar strategy for this election.

Every election is important; however, this one stands out as an election about our fundamental rights to exercise the freedoms that democracy is supposed to offer and the accountability of the Government to the people. Yet, that freedom is challenged by government intrusion into our lives, and we are all damaged by the associated high levels of corruption.

The CAA is not aligned politically, favouring the ideological bent most closely aligned with our values.

To enable us to be heard, we need your help to invest in broadening our reach, currently over 30k, to more Victorians and influence their voting by taking into account the matters we raise.

Our objective is to achieve a Government with Integrity and transparency at its core regardless of the politics. If that is not fulfilled, all the promises are worthless.

Our fight against corruption needs financial support to increase our effectiveness in the public interest. Transparency International estimates corruption to cost $4000 per person per annum. Your support will help us fight corruption and consequential injustices.

To donate, go to https://caainc.org.au/how-to-become-a-donor/

HALLELUJAH A BREAKTHROUGH?

13th May 2022

The announcement by the Ombudsman, Ms Deborah Glass OBE (Herald Sun 11/5/22), that an outsider will probe cronyism is the first sign of cracks appearing in the wall of corruption that is endemic to Victoria.

Corruption can only survive and grow when those who hold positions of power can act in concert, only achievable by widespread cronyism, nepotism and indebtedness.

The Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) fully supports this initiative and congratulates the Ombudsman on her response to the Government referral.

This chink in this hitherto impenetrable corruption wall will knock out the foundations to bring that edifice tumbling down.

The importance of this announcement cannot be understated.

Once the collapse starts, it will inevitably lead to the breadth and depth of corruption in Victoria being exposed as the conies fight for survival.

A pattern is already evident with the exposé by those involved in the political branch stacking issues. You can expect that pattern to be replicated many times over.

Once the ‘penny has dropped’, that most cronies will suffer financial pain at least, and some may end up in jail; there will be a mad scramble to want to talk to the inquiry. Many realising the ‘jig is up,’ and those who have had their careers and lives ruined by cronyism.

Government entities use the selection panel process to mask cronyism, but a compliant or corrupt selection panel is not a defence but an extension of cronyism.

All Victorians must support every effort to fight this corruption pandemic that costs each Victorian $4000(est) every year and remove those who serve their selfish self-interests instead of the State.

The fewer cronies that survive, the greater the benefit for us all.

The CAA will be making a comprehensive submission and invites input for consideration from members and supporters.

For further information, go to https://www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au/our-impact/news/politicisation-of-the-public-service-issues-paper-and-request-for-submissions/