CAA PLAN 100.3 – 2024

CAA PLAN 100.3 – 2024

The CAA has published a series of Plans aimed at identifying issues in the law and order space that adversely impact all of us. The current iteration is PLAN 100.3, updating the last version, published in 2019.

A lot has happened in the intervening years. This paper will update the community about the issues we identify and provide suggestions to decision-makers on how things can be improved.

We welcome any comments and hope this paper informs the broader community to pressure for change.

Plan 100.3 Word Doc

Plan 100.3 PDF

POLICE RESORT TO INDUSTRIAL ACTION – Part 2

POLICE RESORT TO INDUSTRIAL ACTION – Part 2

The iconic Notre Dame Cathedral, built in 1250 and located on the Île de la Cité (an island in the Seine) in Paris, was gutted by fire in 2019. French President Emmanuel Macron declared at the time that the Cathedral would be completely rebuilt.

The task, starting with the foundations and everything above, is slated for reopening in 2024, six years after what was criticised as a very optimistic five-year target set by Macron.

And what relevance does this dauntless undertaking have to Victoria Police and the current industrial relations issue? Quite a lot.

Given all the challenges faced by the French, this arduous task will be one of the most outstanding achievements of all time, demonstrating that given the right goals, an unwavering focus on the result and motivation, anything can be achieved.

The critical issues required to achieve this outcome are,

  • Visionary and intellectually sound Leadership,
  • Unwavering support from the political class,
  • A committed artisan workforce who could see the goals set,
  • and an equally committed citizenry.

Each of these components is of equal value to achieve the overall goal.

Those values directly correlate with how to address the problems of Victoria Police and how the issue must be approached – the Industrial action is but a symptom of a more significant issue that needs the application of the principles adopted by the French.

The first challenge for those with executive influence over the Force is to admit shortcomings and address them head-on rather than deflect them with spin. For many problems, Industrial Relations tops the list; solutions cannot be achieved with a series of band-aids but by addressing the core issues.

While the current IR issues must be resolved, unless authentic leadership comes to the fore and restoration of this once great organisation is undertaken to be the benchmark for policing in Australia again, IR issues will continue to plague the organisation and increase in frequency, sucking the energy that should be applied to its function, impacting adversely on the Workforce and  Service delivery.

We will persist in drawing attention to the issues that require urgent consideration.

ISSUES

  • COVID Impact on Police

Policing is a proud and was generally a highly respected profession.

There is no doubt that the use of the police by the Government during the COVID pandemic has done enormous harm to the standing of police in the community. The current disquiet and much of the disastrous staff retention failures can be attributed to COVID. The damage done is seismic and will linger, reverberating for at least a decade or more.

The police have worn the brunt of much of the displeasure caused by the Government strategies implemented during COVID, mainly experienced in their private lives through friends, acquaintances and family, making it more emphatic than normal community disquiet.

We, as observers with some knowledge of the processes that should be followed and best practices in law enforcement, consider that the government’s strategy to scare the pants off the community coupled with overzealous and incompetent police leaders collided, trampling all over the Separation of Powers to produce some very ordinary policing of the type we usually only see in other undemocratic countries with authoritarian regimes.

We are still astounded that the person who authorised the use of firearms to disperse demonstrators has not been identified and charged with serious criminal offences or, at the very least, relieved of any command positions because of an appalling lack of judgement.

To this day, there has been no plausible deniability from VicPol.

Given that leaders, both Political and Police, are quick to apologise for anything historical, the failure to acknowledge the many COVID errors and commit to change shows abysmal leadership.

The CAA has long argued that the responsible use of water cannons to rapidly achieve law and order by dampening the spirits of lawbreakers in the first instance or forcibly moving demonstrators if non-compliance continues is substantially more appropriate than firing rubber bullets (capable of inflicting severe injury or death) or exposing Police to injury trying to restore order. This option must be put under earnest consideration.

  • Roads Policing

As is not unexpected, given the reaction by the Police and the Politicians (if they ever care to comment constructively), there is much-feigned handwringing and teeth-gnashing over the shocking road toll. Victoria has recorded its highest number of lives lost on the roads in 15 years, with 296 people killed. The death toll of almost 300 easily eclipsed the 241 who died in accidents in 2022.

One would have thought strident gains in policing our roads would have improved markedly over fifteen years, but apparently not.

These figures support the regular anecdotal claims that there are never Police on the road.

This statement in response to the carnage was attributed to Victoria police by the Herald Sun and shows the narrow thinking of VicPol –

Police allege,

“Single acts of non-compliance or people making basic driving errors”, such as failing to obey road signs and red lights, using mobile phones behind the wheel and low-range spee

ding, have accounted for more than half of the deaths, while stunts such as high-range drink driving, illicit drug driving and excessive speeding made up about a quarter of fatal collisions.

Further, about 10 per cent of people killed were not wearing a seat belt”.SEO

 What they don’t say, and is not in their DNA to admit, is that they have failed. Just blaming the public; it’s always somebody else’s fault. Although there is a modicum of merit in their allegations, the Policing function of preventing offences and prosecuting offenders cannot be abrogated and has clearly and dismally failed. Many of these offences would dramatically decline with adequate visible enforcement of the rules.

Although there is still an Assistant Commissioner for Traffic, it is our understanding that line control of these Police rests with the Operations Command and has, in effect, absorbed the specialist Traffic Police to support the Operational General Duties. They must be allocated to their own command to meaningfully target areas that can deal with some of the ‘non-compliance issues’ and be accountable.

The Traffic police have lost their deterrent effect, which must be fixed. Just painting ‘Highway Patrol’ on their vehicles doesn’t cut it. The average driver no longer keeps an eye on their rearview mirror in case the police check their speed; technology (Speed Cameras) has its advantages but has nowhere near the deterrent effect of a patrol car in real-time.

Using Highway Patrol for general duties should be a matter of last resort. As should the use of these Police in special operations unrelated to traffic.

A functional adjustment will dramatically improve productivity and a sense of worth and appreciation for what they do. It will also counter attrition issues from these members, considerably improving Industrial Relations.

The only caveat we put forth is that the nine-hour rotating roster could be dangerous to apply to these members as the challenge of nine hours of driving reduces the safety of members and, over consecutive days, may put them in danger of fatigue, an OH&S issue.

  • 000 calls from the public reporting dangerous drivers is a monumental Service delivery failure in that there is minimal follow-up of reports of poor driving, arguably aggravating an already dire policing failure on our roads.

mpressive until you look a little further and realise that without plausible explanations, it is smoke and mirrors, a deceitful and shocking attempt to con the public by VicPol or the contractors.

The other notable figure is that in 2022, 51,305 events were recorded. Now, that is odd and a 14,519 discrepancy. Fourteen thousand five hundred nineteen times, jobs not registered as incoming were despatched via the system.

Where did they materialise from?

We don’t know who is to blame for this statistical bleep. However, when you add to that, there is no assignment accountability; it does need proper investigation.

Once the call from the public is received, the CAD system enters the job, and an operator either assigns or despatches a unit.

We know that the vast majority of these calls are never attended and marked off on the CAD System as Gone on arrival (GOA), No Offence Disclosed (NOD), or the most usual response is Keep a look out for (KALF), a generic broadcast of the details reported or the other classic Unable to Locate (UTL) which can also mean we did not look.

There is no accountability, follow-up or feedback, even by SMS, of the outcome to the 51,305 publicly-minded community members doing their civic duty.

Only about 1,000 calls resulted in any real action, and as a result, 906 offences were detected, 117 offenders were apprehended, and six stolen cars were located.

This last statistical matrix should have every dedicated and competent Police member, irrespective of rank,  salivating at the potential and furious that this opportunity to make a real difference has been ignored for so long. Over 50,000 sets of eyes working for law and order is getting close, to policing nirvana. (Buddhism)

Examples of the CAD system as it should be,

  1. Two vehicles were seen “dragging” along Ferntree Gully Road Glen Waverley; theregistration numbers of both cars were provided.  There was no police vehicle available to attend, and the outcome was recorded as AAC (All Apparently Correct). A check of police records indicated that the probable driver of one vehicle had accumulated 19 demerit points and had recent criminal convictions for serious offences. He was into high-performance drag cars.  The caller was contacted and stated she was a nurse at the Alfred Hospital and constantly saw people in emergency involved in vehicle collisions. The drivers were ultimately interviewed and later pleaded guilty to driving offences in court.
  2. A Vehicle was seendriving dangerously on the Monash Freeway towards the city.  The supervising sergeant requested that a unit be directed to investigate.  The supervising sergeant replied shortly that the registered owner and the reporting person had been contacted. The registered owner stated that her granddaughter was driving the vehicle. A further check revealed that the granddaughter has numerous prior convictions associated with drug use.

Contrasted with

  • An example of tragic consequences was a drug-affected driver who was later convicted of culpable driving.  In 10 days before he caused a fatal collision, numerous calls were made to 000 reporting his erratic driving. Any of the incidents reported to police could have amounted to Conduct Endangering Life or Serious Injury, in which case it would have been open to Victoria Police members to arrest and bail him with conditions, thus providing an immediate response and saving a life; it never happened.

Can you imagine what impact VicPol could have on crime and traffic issues if the efforts of the public were respected and pursued? Not even a return ‘text’ with a note of thanks and the outcome to the instigator of the original call. So much for nurturing public help.

One would think having over 50,000 Victorians providing eyes for law enforcement would be respected and built upon, not treated with disdain.

Another example where it’s not how many police the force has but how they are used that is the key.

  • Service Delivery

This is critical to improving industrial relations as an organisation is respected for its ability to deliver its services. Hence, its staff reap the benefit of working in a rewarding environment and management is duly rewarded.

The problem for VicPol is that they seem not to understand what Service Delivery is, and it is regularly confused with Service Efficiency and masqueraded as Service Delivery. A good organisation constantly tests Service Efficiency proposals through the prism of Service Delivery, which always trumps efficiency.

Something more efficient is counterintuitive if it adversely impacts Service Delivery, the organisation’s primary function, and its purpose.

The lifeblood of Policing is information, and an area with the most significant conflicts between the two disciplines has collided to the detriment of good policing practises.

  • Telephone communications, much to our surprise, and we might add to the surprise of a Deputy Commissioner, who didn’t know you cannot ring Police Headquarters, the Police Headquarters phones have been disconnected. The switchboard has been closed. So, unless you have a particular member’s phone number, you will have enormous trouble communicating.

This example is just one of many where the decisions are made based on efficiency at the expense of service.

If you have ever tried to use the 113444 police assistance line, you are more likely not to be assisted but around as to make the effort a waste of time. But never fear, the police assistance line provides service efficiencies, albeit it fails dramatically in providing an efficient service.

An efficient switchboard would ironically save time and improve service both internally and externally. Improving both service efficiency and service delivery.

This is magnified throughout the Force, even down to local Police Stations ( -who at least have a Phone number), where several options will be given in answer to your call; the quantity varies on each station but can be a substantial number for the caller to determine which one they should use.

The responsibility to determine whom the caller should talk to has been placed on the caller, who is supposed to know the intricacies and duties within the station and who will deliver the required Service, not the service provider, VicPol. Often, much time is wasted bouncing a call around within a Station, and the one left frustrated, the caller, is supposed to be the person to whom police are required to provide a Service.

This approach is based on the flawed assumption that all callers know whom to talk to about their issues, but unlike the police, who have access to a detailed directory, the public is left to flounder. Blatant and entrenched Service Efficiency at the expense of Service Delivery as it allegedly saves Police resources and time, or does it? The answer is only an obscure maybe, but what about delivering the police service, an abject failure?

  • Tactical deficiencies affecting IR.

We have been concerned for some time about the lack of tactical expertise that unnecessarily puts the lives of police and the public at greater risk than they should otherwise. This issue is central to IR or should be.

With a heightened international upsurge in radical extremism, the risk to police has markedly increased again.

The blind adherence to two-up patrols translates into Police never being one-up, irrespective of the task. That effectively reduced police capability by up to 50%.

Police patrolling by vehicle or on foot in two-up or more patrols face greater danger than patrolling by themselves because,

    • A partner or partners distract members from their crucial defence mechanism, situational awareness.
    • Having to manage professional relationships and colleague dynamics can cloud the judgement of when to pursue an issue or back off.
    • Multiple Police involved in performing patrols can provide multiple attractive targets for the radicalised, and history has shown fewer police have been killed working one-up, making one-up patrols less dangerous.
    • The risk factors are exhibited by unnecessary police congregating to minimise their risks. Poor or inadequate supervision leads to Police being spectators (the most dangerous situation for any police member)and not performing any particular role at incidents. A spectator generally has no situational awareness and is in danger.

Again, anecdotally, we see the less stringent application of the two-up policy, which is good; however, any move in this direction must be taken with care as less experienced members may have no situational awareness policing skills. This should be the priority of Training and a skill that must be developed.

More often than not, the concept of one-up patrols is misunderstood and rapidly dismissed as some archaic policing practice when, in parts of the world, the idea is seen as cutting-edge for the safety and efficacy of the Policing role.

One-up patrols do not mean fewer police but more police vehicles, heightening the visible police presence and reducing risks by attending to calls simultaneously with other patrol vehicles.

As a station that might, on an average shift, field three vehicles, under this scenario, they would probably field five or six, substantially improving the efficacy of the police function for that shift. Once the initial phase of an incident is controlled, it may only require one member to finish collecting information for admin purposes or any other reason. The other police, who are not directly engaged, can be available for different tasks. It can be very effective with active and competent local supervision.

The issue of police safety working one up or with one or more partners was closely examined at https://www.aic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-05/tbp049.pdf. The findings did not provide sufficient grounds for abandoning one-up patrols based on police safety or efficiency.

  • Technological agnosticism

This seems to have a substantially negative effect on Victoria Police. Everything in this area appears piecemeal and developed by a series of add-ons that do not achieve overall application cost-effectively.

The most recent issues involved the attempt to have all members issued an iPad, and the increased service efficiency sounded great until somebody woke up and that an iPad was a liability in the operations area and a risk to employees ‘ safety. Wrestling suspects while holding an iPad became an evident and terminal flaw.

The answer was to provide members with an iPhone, but instead of developing an iPhone that can perform the tasks of a body-worn camera, it is used as an add-on to the existing cameras.

Microelectronics Technology has developed miniaturised cameras that are currently used in medicine and other applications, so why not policing?

Micro cameras worn by Police connected to their iPhones would not be a giant leap technologically but would be welcomed by the members and improve their safety.

The cameras could then be used with facial recognition to scan suspects, establishing identity and other relevant police data on-site. This information can be vital for members’ safety during an interaction in the field.

  • G-Tags

A proposal long pursued by the CAA to apply technology currently available, to the police function.

Fitted to all vehicles, the G-Tag can,

    • Minimise the risk to police and the community by disabling moving vehicles remotely. The capacity to render a vehicle inoperable will dramatically reduce the need for ‘police pursuits’, the dangers to the community and police, and the inevitable property damage. The technology has been available for some time and has already been installed in many newer vehicles.
    • Provide more material of evidentiary value in prosecutions where a vehicle is involved,
    • Locate missing persons, reducing loss of life by self-harm,
    • Reduce the theft of vehicles and affect recovery before the ubiquitous torching of vehicles.
    • An aid to identifying perpetrators using vehicles.
    • Linked to the 000 reporting of dangerous driving, the G-Tag can verify that report and take action immediately. Using the current 50,000,000 calls coupled with an ability to respond immediately if the danger exists would have a monumentally positive impact on Road safety, criminality, and civil compliance.

There are other advantages set out in the proposal at https://caainc.org.au/?s=G-Tag .

We know that VicPol ran a pilot of an abridged version of the concept in Dandenong; however, given the approach adopted, it is a little wonder that the pilot failed. We suspect this was more about a deliberate attempt to discredit the idea rather than any effort to evaluate the proposal properly.

It was telling that at no stage did the management running the pilot attempt to contact or consult with the CAA so as to run an unbiased pilot.

What little information we have on the pilot indicates that those responsible for it had little idea of the concept and were piloting a system that removed all responsibility from policing, a trait we have seen in other approaches to other issues – avoiding responsibility, masked as Service Efficiency, and or lacking the ability to apply visionary and intellectually sound Leadership.

The critical issues required to achieve positive outcomes are lacking in Victoria Police, and leadership needs to follow the French model,

    • Visionary and intellectually sound Leadership,
    • Unwavering support from the political class,
    • A committed artisan workforce who could see the goals set,
    • and an equally committed citizenry.

These and other issues need attention, and we do not underestimate the task ahead, but if the French can do it with Notre Dame, then VicPol should have no problems achieving what seems unachievable; it just takes ‘Visionary and intellectually sound Leadership’.

The opportunity exists for VicPol leadership to create a seminal moment in Victoria Police history.

POLICE OPERATIONAL BIAS

POLICE OPERATIONAL BIAS

The breaking down of law and order in Victoria has been evident for some time, but recently, this concept has accelerated to a very worrying level.

The past is only relevant to identify patterns; the future is the worry, as it seems nothing is being done to arrest the decline.

Currently, the situation where demonstrators, seemingly with impunity, do whatever they can to intimidate another sector of the community, instilling gross fear on any part of the community, is unacceptable on so many levels.

Worryingly, is that the intimidation is so vitriolic it is only a ‘hair’s breadth’ away from violence.

The seriousness of the situation cannot be downplayed, and yet the Police, who are responsible for maintaining law and order, seem ineffective through bias.

This is not the Australian way.

The bias by Policing has been developing for some time, and we suggest it has a lot to do with the failure of the principle of the ‘Separation of Powers’[i], a long-held presumption that has been eroded, and the management of public order is where it most obviously manifests.

The failure of this principle, where the decisions and responses to public order are tainted by Political bias, is a two-way street.

The blatant direct involvement of politics in decision-making has become far less obvious, but we are sure it still occurs; what has evolved is a far more insidious, unconscious bias. A will to please political masters or those who support the government without direct interaction.

The Police have no role in allowing partisan views to influence responses but must respond on the basis of maintaining law and order, and that includes protecting vulnerable groups and all citizens; the issues and reasons for disquiet must never influence the operational response.

Some of the disquiet in police ranks that has provoked industrial action recently has been attributed to the Forces’ obvious bias.

This move toward partisanship with the government of the day has been an attempt by Governments to own police powers and have a far greater say in the operations of Policing, a repugnant concept that might seem fine in theory, but, as we have seen, makes Policing ineffective.

The current demonstrations against Israel by pro-Palestinian groups supporting Hamas are a case in point.

The basis of the demonstrations is those allegedly opposed to Israel’s response to the attacks, hostage-taking and murders committed by Hamas. The role of Victoria Police must not be influenced by the reasons for the demonstration but by providing a Police response to maintain Law and order and should be as concerned with protecting the abused Jews as they should be for those who identify as Pro-Palestinian.

The accusation of police bias is a ‘hot button’ issue sure to raise the ire of Police executives. Be that as it may, the matter is immensely serious, and the issue of the breakdown of the ‘Separation of Powers’ and biase must be corrected.

To ignore the issue will be a blight on the capacity of Police Senior management as this issue lies at their feet.

The following list of incidents indicates beyond doubt that bias is at play and must be addressed.

  • Black Lives Matter – passive police response acting as spectators.
  • COVID-19 – aggressive police response including use of firearms on demonstrators – aggressive role extending over numerous occasions for two years, including chasing and dispersing demonstrators using defensive weapons like pepper spray as an attack weapon. Tea bagging protestors to make them breach the COVID rules.
  • Sundry environmental demonstrations – passive police role acting as spectators.
  • Pro-Palestine (Hamas) demonstrations -passive police response acting as spectators.

We do not support unnecessarily aggressive responses but demand the Police apply the law without fear or favour, malice or ill will, absolutely, irrespective of the issue at hand.

Following this principle will rapidly improve and rebuild the image and confidence that the community had in its Police, and the police members will be able to return to the non-partisan positions they once were able to hold in their professional capacity, improving the morale within the organisation so that the workplace again becomes non-partisan.

We acknowledge, however, that the government has a lot to answer for by diluting the Police power to manage these issues by repealing the ‘move on’ Laws.

It has seriously diminished police authority to perform their task.

By removing those powers, the closest analogy is a law to remove the ability of doctors to carry a stethoscope when working in Emergency Rooms (ER).

The Victoria Police can and must do better operationally, free from Government pressure and interference.

[i] In Australia, the power to make and manage laws is shared between the Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary. The separation of powers avoids any person or group having all the power. https://peo.gov.au/

 

WHEN IS ENOUGH REALLY ENOUGH.

WHEN IS ENOUGH REALLY ENOUGH.

The State of Victoria is in a terrible mess and is deteriorating before our eyes; not a day goes by without more bad news.

We have a rapidly climbing crime rate in the worst categories.

  • A Road Toll is off the Richter scale,
  • Domestic Violence is out of control,
  • Youth crime is at levels never seen before,
  • The burgeoning drug problem ruining lives on an unprecedented scale,
  • Rampant Cybercrime,
  • Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMG) and Organised Crime gang strategies failing, all operating with a degree of impunity,
  • A broken legal system, taking years to resolve straightforward cases and with little or no empathy for victims,
  • A biased legal system with serious crimes going unprosecuted based on who the perpetrator is rather than impartiality applied,
  • If you need Police in a hurry, any chance of a response is problematic.

A crisis seems an understatement.

Additionally, the mooted Police industrial action currently confronting the community aggravates the overall perception that this State has an ineffective Police Force, which feeds into accelerating the further decline of the issue being confronted by us all.

The government must do what it takes to resolve this industrial matter quickly.

We do not criticise the Police members, and although we oppose the Police industrial action on principle, there are compelling issues that have caused this current industrial dispute.

Amongst the issues,

  • High levels of staff turnover,
  • Poor recruiting outcomes,
  • The Force being overmanaged – top heavy at the expense of the front line,
  • Unrelenting repetition of certain policing demands without solutions,
  • Police members over-committed to non-core functions, reducing their ability to perform the task of policing,
  • Understaffing of frontline policing,
  • Staff burnout,
  • Lack of support from the Courts and the Government,
  • Unnecessary tasks sapping resources,
  • The breakdown of the ‘Separation of Powers’ politicising Policing.

We should also include management capabilities as that is no doubt a contributor.

We do acknowledge there are pressures on police management due to outside factors. It is hard in an operational sense for management to service all competing demands with insufficient staff who have generally become less motivated by the nature of the irrelevant tasks they are required to perform.

Police are continually attending domestic conflicts at an alarming rate, sapping the majority of Police resources, and whilst there was a Royal Commission into the problem costing many millions, the outcome has not achieved any reduction in the levels of violence or frequency of police demands to attend domestic disputes but rather the issue has exponentially exploded in demands on Police resources.

Causing substantial negativity among Police members, their plight is generally ignored, with more demands on their time with fewer police to do the policing and no appreciable effort to arrest the decline.

These problems did not manifest overnight but are a consequence of factors that should have been dealt with a long time ago.

The issue is complex, but the reality is that the rising crime rates are the consequence of sustained inaction by the state and, in particular, the denigration of effective Proactive Policing that has all but disappeared. Although portrayed as functional, the police proactive strategies have failed to play a fundamental or effective role in policing.

Failure to stop crime before it happens has fed substantially into the current community malaise.

The issue is plain and simple: we are becoming a more lawless society, not a more tolerant one, as pundits try to portray.

An ideological bent towards a more progressive ideal is actually a misnomer. Generally, progressive philosophies create regression, and we all suffer, particularly the most vulnerable in society.

Examples that stand out,

  • Medically Supervised (Safe injecting room) Injecting room,
  • Decriminalising public drunkenness,
  • The Koori parallel judicial system,
  • Abuse of the ‘Separation of Powers’ convention,
  • Weakening of various criminal statutes,
  • The failure to modernise the archaic legal system that is now unfit for purpose.

There is a void in leadership in this State, across a broad spectrum of management, fed by an insatiable appetite to never accept blame for failure. A sentiment throughout Government and also now appearing in the corporate sector.

This all leads to a lack of accountability, the nemesis this State faces.

If you have had enough like us, sign our petition demanding these issues be urgently addressed. https://www.change.org/p/when-is-enough-is-really-enough

Enough signatures and we can demand change.

DEMONSTRATIONS – ARE POLICE BIASED?

DEMONSTRATIONS – ARE POLICE BIASED?

The debate and allegations of police bias in the management of demonstrations have again been raised.

Bias concerns have indeed been more frequent and strident over recent years, and central to the community angst is the reported different responses to different causes.

The unavoidable comparisons of the police response are drawn between pre-COVID, Black Lives Matter (BLM),  COVID Demonstrations, Pro Woman’s Rights and more recently, pro-Palestinian/Hamas demonstrations.

Police acting as spectators to the BLM demonstration, as opposed to Rubber Bullets and O/C Spray against COVID Demonstrators, a scenario VicPol will not be able to move away from for many years, if ever.

Hence, the CAA’s position on water cannons which are at least consistent.

Now, the issue relates to the police response to the pro-Palestine/Hamas anti-Jewish demonstrations.

The first principle of Policing demonstrations is consistency so that an allegation of bias cannot be levelled at the police; irrespective of the cause, people are exercising their right to assembly and free speech.

It is understandable that many in the community have doubts and feel Victoria police show bias, influenced by the subject matter of the demonstrations.

These latest demonstrations could become more problematic and facilitate anarchy by extremists hijacking the demonstrator’s actions from either side of the debate. A lack of Police action toward demonstrators who are breaking the law is a major cause of violence escalating because the behaviour is unchecked.

What has occurred seems to be inconsistency in applying the law as it stands. This inconsistency implies that the police policy moves with the subject matter of the demonstration, hence the allegations of bias.

It was widely reported that a Senior Police spokesperson said, “Protesters could not be stopped from unfurling hateful banners and performing anti-Semitic rallying cries”.

But there are specific laws to deal with these matters.

In Victoria, it is against the law to vilify a person or group of people in public because of their race or religion. Vilification is behaviour that ‘incites or encourages hatred, serious contempt, revulsion or severe ridicule’ for a person or group of people because of their race and/or religion.

It is also against the law to behave in public in a way that is racially offensive or abusive to a person or group of people because of their race, colour, nationality or ethnic origin

. https://www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/racial-vilification-and-acts-racial-hatred.

It is, therefore, not a question as to whether the perpetrators, and there were many exposed by news services, have committed Vilification in breach of the Law, it is only their individual guilt or innocence that is the question, necessarily determined by a Court, not the bias of individuals within VicPol.

That the crime has been committed is beyond doubt.

Another statement attributed in the media to the Senior Officer was,

“Police are aware of recent chants and banners at these rallies, and while they might be offensive to ‘some’, unfortunately, they do not always constitute a criminal offence.”

So, the police pick and choose the ‘some’.

That is bias and not police exercising discretion, which individual Police have the power to do.

The further claim that Police can only act within the confines of the law” is a truism. However, it implies that the actions we see are within the confines of the law – a highly debatable proposition because, equally, the police have an obligation to enforce the law. There are a number of potential offences that the Police can take action against for those breaching them, which in part supports the politician’s views that police have adequate powers.

Offences regularly committed by demonstrators that are not prosecuted,

Obstruction, Trespass, Unlawful assembly, Anti-mask laws, Offensive behaviour, Besetting, Offences against emergency workers, Violent disorder, Affray or property damage.

https://fls.org.au/law-handbook/rights-activism-and-fair-treatment-at-work/community-activism/common-charges-associated-with-protests/

We accept that at times, for operational expediency, some minor offences should be overlooked (exercising police discretion); however, when demonstrations occur without any arrests and blatant offences are being committed, beamed into our living rooms on the nightly news, the authority of the State and the Police is undermined as is the confidence of the community, something from a policing perspective that is essential for the overall effective policing function.

That some perpetrators are prosecuted post-event is not a disincentive for participants where an arrest during the demonstration is. The lack of arrests can promote an attitude that police are weak and ineffectual, the deterrent effect is lost, and more social unrest is guaranteed.

While weasel words to attempt to justify police inaction and or bias may placate a minority, the vast majority of the community sees through the spin.

Fair, impartial and effective policing without fear or favour is an underlying foundation principle of policing.

VICTORIA POLICE A BASTION OF INTEGRITY – OR IS IT?

VICTORIA POLICE A BASTION OF INTEGRITY – OR IS IT?

16th November 2023

The Victoria Police ‘Prior History Guidelines’ published on their recruiting website https://www.police.vic.gov.au/police-entry-requirements raises considerable doubts about the integrity of the Police in this State.

The guidelines are an exhaustive list of offences that a person can be convicted of and still be recruited. This list will shock many.

Albeit that there are exclusion periods attached to each conviction. It is wrong on so many counts.

Not the least the lack of empathy extended to victims who may be confronted with their perpetrator in Police uniform.

Five or ten years may seem like a long time, but to the victims, their pain can be an eternity.

Simply having an arbitrary exclusion period does not mean that the applicant does not still hold a biased disposition to the values they held when committing the crime.

At best, it only determines that during the exclusion period, they have not been caught, not that they didn’t continue to offend.

The application of this policy, which has been in place prior to the appointment of the current Chief Commissioner, may go some way to explaining the difficulty in securing and retaining staff and the lack of confidence that has evolved in policing generally.

Police were once looked up to as pillars of society; this policy trashes that notion.

It allows people with pre-dispositions, attitudes and values not consistent with the high integrity expected by police to negatively influence the culture of the organisation.

Amongst a raft of offences, it is possible that the police member attending to investigate your issue has been previously convicted of that same offence and could have served jail time for that indiscretion.

Irrespective of time elapsed, that police member will have a disposition that may be counterproductive to good policing and affect their judgement. It would definitely not instil confidence in victims that this possibility exists.

Not too many people would be pleased that a convicted felon is the police member dealing with their issue. The principle of ‘set a thief to catch a thief’, is a principle that is unacceptable by any measure in policing.

An example of offences that applicants to VicPol can be convicted of and still be approved to join the police Force,

‘Theft, deception, criminal damage, serious assault, or other serious offences.

Dishonesty, assault, property damage or any offence against an emergency services worker, trafficking, possession or using illicit or illegal drugs.

Driving in a manner or speed dangerous, DUI, drug-impaired driving including refusing to undergo an assessment or refusing to comply with the requirements of testing,’

Surprisingly, the list also includes Insolvency with a five-year exclusion period. This shows scant knowledge of the realities of business. We have just come through and are still feeling the effects in the corporate sector of the COVID pandemic and now fiscal headwinds with Government policy responsible for many insolvencies, not poor character by directors.

Many businesses face insolvency through no fault of the Directors.

This policy is counterintuitive, discouraging these people, who are generally highly skilled people of very good character, from the Police Force.

Probably the most inane offence is the inclusion of ‘any offence against an emergency services worker.’ What sort of ‘numb nut’ would include the possibility of approving an application of somebody who has been convicted of belting a Police or emergency services worker?

It may be that this list is moot because it will conflict with the new legislation for Spent convictions. A person whose criminal offending has been ‘Spent’ will not be required to disclose the prior conviction in the first place. Unless Victoria police have secured an exemption, it will mean that they will not have to disclose spent prior convictions irrespective of Police policy, which says they must.

The number of people who are accepted into the Force with prior convictions for any crime, let alone serious offences, is irrelevant.

That they can be accepted is the issue that undermines the integrity of all Police and the Force generally, community confidence and the culture of Victoria police.

It is incumbent on the Chief Commissioner to rescind this Policy and require the Government to provide an exception to police on the issue of Spent Convictions.

Integrity is the cornerstone of effective policing, if not it should be.

SEPARATION OF POWERS  – THE ELEPHANT IN THE CORNER

SEPARATION OF POWERS – THE ELEPHANT IN THE CORNER

There can be no argument that Victoria is a standout State in Australia for all the wrong reasons, but why?

In trying to identify why things in this State have deteriorated so dramatically in recent years, it is notable that the Separation of Powers concept has all but disappeared from public discourse.

The CAA is strongly inclined to the view that this State’s decline, with no sign of abatement, all stems from a failure of the principle of the Separation of Powers.

That was clearly and intensely evident during the COVID pandemic, with the Police response seemingly dictated by the Government.

What has evolved is a massive block of Labor’s apparatchiks, achieved through ideological nepotism, throughout the public service and all Government authorities.

It would seem appointments are made not on the ability of the individuals but on their ideological bent. Structured in a way, they are beholding to the greater good, the ideology they all share, not the State citizens they are responsible for serving.

This has allowed the evolution of the ideological mass that has achieved the critical level of avoiding independent thought, the mass that has lost its independence of thought and rolls on engulfing any who get in its way.

Shades of the mythical ‘Blob’.

The power of this mass is frightening, deliberately caused by the Premier and those around him seeking ultimate power and control.

What the architects of this mass have underestimated is that the mass appears to have developed its own ability to grow and engorge the designers who are losing control, hence the more outrageous machinations of parts of the Legal system.

Initially, an attractive proposition for any Government putting people in key positions that have compatible ideological values, rather than competency for their function, which means that every decision is made through an ideological prism rather than a pragmatic reality that good governance requires.

The worst possible thing that can happen to any society is the removal of the safeguards that are the cornerstones of democracy.

The Separation of Powers is not a concept that is front of mind to many. However, its importance cannot be overstated.

Public officers are required to implement the Policies of the Government of the day, but that should not diminish their obligations granted under the various legislative Separation of Powers, bestowed on them to give critical and independent advice, particularly to Government Ministers.

Police are a critical example. A sworn police Officer cannot be directed to charge somebody with an offence if they do not believe there is a reasonable likelihood that a Court will convict. Equally, a Court must determine its findings in criminal matters based on the evaluation of the veracity of the evidence, not political ideology.

This concept is repeated throughout the Legal system, and the failsafe, the Separation of Powers, must be protected.

There are very strong indications that the ideological mass has permeated the legal system and, in particular, the senior people appointed to critical decision-making positions.

We have seen many instances where serious charges have been dropped without explanation and where what appear to be obvious serious criminal offences have not been prosecuted, again without explanation.  The community are not privy to the reasons behind this turn of events and are entitled to know.

Justice must not only be done but be seen to be done.

This begs the question as to why the Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerry Judd, is unwilling to keep the public, and, perhaps, more importantly, victims informed.

No better example of the failures was the decisions made by high-level bureaucrats in relation to the non-prosecution of the main alleged architects of the Gobbo fiasco.

An example of where the Separation of Powers, political and State administration, may well have collided, and because of the severe lack of transparency, the public does not know why these decisions have been made.

They may well be quite proper in the exercising of the authority of the bureaucrat but morally reprehensible in practice, allowing those who are of the ideological mindset of the government to avoid proper scrutiny and accountability.

The CAA implores all politicians for a bi-partisan approach to reviewing the application of the Separation of Powers to be undertaken.

It must surely be attractive to all politicians to have the bureaucrats being held to account for their administration rather than the politicians who can focus on Policy.

We are not opposed to amendments to Ministerial Accountability rules to achieve joint responsibility for the functions of the administration from the relevant Minister to the head of the Department with the ability for sanctions to be applied for failures.

Furthermore, it does not serve us well that Departmental heads can hide behind their Ministers, or the lines are so blurred as to the Separation of Powers – the loss of checks and balances will lead to more problems, and, inevitably, corruption.

To be clear, the dilution of the Separation of Powers for Victoria Police was created with the Police Act of 2013. This legislation was introduced by the then minority-conservative government.

There is little doubt that the unintended consequences, as they have manifested, were unlikely to have been anticipated.

A by-partisan examination and review of the Police Act is also essential to remove anomalies that currently exist.

 

 

POLICING BY THE NUMBERS

POLICING BY THE NUMBERS

It is not the number of Police that makes a difference, but how you use them; that is the key.

Victoria Police are allegedly understaffed, which means that radical and surgical work must be undertaken to maintain Law and Order, something the average citizen sees slipping away.

The most common gripe from Police members is the role that they have been forced to play in the Domestic conflict situation. Taking multiple crews off the road for periods often well past the end of their shifts and into overtime.

The priority of Domestic disturbances impact causes every other function to be adversely impacted, and functions assessed on the lower end of the scale of importance can wait many hours for Police to attend, if at all.

Often forgotten in the prioritising regime is people do not contact the Police for no good reason. Whatever the incident, it is important to them. Although administrative assessments of importance occur, the victim has no such luxury.

The biggest casualty is the inability of the Police to provide a highly visible Police presence, reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.

Backed by a Royal Commission, the role of the police in domestic incidents has gone well past their primary function of maintaining the Peace and enforcing the law, to become glorified statistic accumulators, marriage guidance experts, conflict resolution councillors and welfare managers.

Sometimes, even Royal Commissions get it very wrong, as in this case. The Commission’s terms of reference would possibly be where the error lays as the consequences of their recommendations on the broader question of the role of the broad function of Police were unlikely to have been examined and, therefore, not properly considered.

That anomaly must be adjusted.

Unintended consequences of the Commission findings could be the major driver in Police leaving the service and or suffering stress-related illness through work overload.

If not the major driver of police dissatisfaction, it is a significant contributor.

From a policing perspective, attending a Domestic that takes up a high proportion of their daily duties, day in and day out, is something they did not sign on for.

As part of their job, it is their responsibility to prevent any breach of peace and prosecute offenders; they accept that. However, they are not qualified, nor should they be expected to handle the matter beyond that. Their expertise lies elsewhere.

There is a plethora of highly paid public servants in a number of departments supported by a large ‘Domestic industry’ of consultants and clinicians that has been built up around this issue, but their service is restricted to office hours and office environments inconsistent with the realities of parties they are working with, that falls to the Police.

Highly paid Lawyers also feed off the Domestic carcase, but they all have something in common with the confluence of all the ‘Domestic industry’ functions. They only operate by referral and appointments and are rarely, if ever, available to help with intervention while the situation is active.

If half the experts who derive an income from this industry were required to provide a 24-hour response capacity of sufficient numbers to deal with the fallout of half the reported Domestic disturbances in any given shift the impact would be extremely positive, firstly for the warring parties and additionally on the capacity of VicPol to perform its roader function.

There would be no expectation that the Domestic response units be exposed to danger as the scene must first be controlled by the Police, but the early intervention of a response team will achieve better outcomes for the parties to the dispute.

Critically, where children are involved, the response teams can remove them, temporarily out of harm’s way, changing the focus on the warring parties and enabling early effective intervention.

Professional consultations at a sterile office miss a critical component from the equation only achieved by visiting the scene, providing context.

The bonus to all Victorians is to free up Police to perform their broader function.

In this current fiscally stretched environment that the State is facing, it might be very clever to make sure that police are relieved from Domestic situations as soon as possible by the ‘Domestic industry’ players.

As a bonus, this might just see a reduction in the exits from Policing, and Police dealing with the broader Policing function rather than predominantly only one.

A reduction in crime and public disorder would be a just reward applauded by the community.

At no additional cost to the public purse; just a realigning the deck chairs.

 

HOW COULD WE BE SO WRONG

HOW COULD WE BE SO WRONG

The current strategies being developed, and some implemented to deal with two of the social blights of our society, Drug and alcohol abuse, have and continue to fail, causing substantial disquiet, and a danger to the rest of the law-abiding citizenry.

On the one hand, we send people, of yet-to-be-determined capabilities and skills, onto the streets to recover drunks and remove them to somewhere safe to recover (Drunk Tanks) and on the other, we facilitate drug addiction at safe injecting rooms (MSIR) accounting for a comparatively very small number of addicts, but the majority are just left on the streets to rot where they fall. A classic, ‘being seen to be doing something’.

Perhaps misguided compassion at best or an underlying strategy to minimise an adverse impact on the illegal drug trade, we do not know, but something is terribly wrong with the current approach.

High on the list of ‘wrongs’ is picking up drunks.

Whoever these people are performing these tasks, they will be at high risk of personal harm or high risk of litigation if somebody they are dealing with is harmed. Before the project sees the light of day, ‘Work Cover’ may have something to say about risks to their responsibility.

While it may sound benign in theory, the reality is that a large percentage of the ‘Drunks’ are not only suffering from alcohol excesses as they did 40 years ago, but today’s drunks are more likely to have achieved their state with a cocktail of drugs and alcohol – the ultimate party pack.

This cocktail approach increases the likelihood of belligerence, and the risk of outsourcing this Drunk recovery mechanism, is absolutely fraught with danger.

The Drunk Tank concept is, at best unnecessary and, at worst, placating to a small number of vocal groups that are blind to reality (focusing on the individual) rather than focusing on the overall impact on society.

It is very easy to take one aspect, in the case of drunkenness, the risk to the drunk, and ignore the other aspects of this behaviour.

If we are only talking about Drunks that are comatose and a response from them cannot be elicited, then it is a medical issue and a role for an Ambulance. If they are responsive, then the traditional four hours in a Police cell is perfectly adequate. Albeit that the provision of support services immediately when they sober up would be an enlightened improvement.

The other and most important aspect of managing people who are affected by alcohol is the common propensity for them to become belligerent and often very hostile to either people in authority first and foremost, or anybody in the vicinity.

The greatest risk of this behaviour manifesting is in the domestic situation and is surprisingly common. Drunkenness and drugs are a huge problem, not restricted to the public space.

The so-called safe injecting room (MSIR) is a political stunt and is presented as a solution; however, the facility only claims, on disturbingly questionable data, that they believe they have saved 63 lives.

When you add those alleged saved lives to the irrefutable statistics, there has to be a substantial question mark over this spurious claim. Because of the nature of the question, there can never be a definitive answer- so at best, they think/claim they may have saved 63 lives.

However, the real question is, does the injecting facility, the MSIR, actually reduce harm or elevate it?

The statistics from the Coroners Court, which are empirical, conclusively show that since the introduction of the MSIR in 2018, there has been no appreciable reduction in drug overdose deaths. Moreover, the trajectory of the increase in deaths, apart from the hiatus caused by COVID, has not altered but has accelerated.

G-TAG AND THE PRIVACY DEBATE

G-TAG AND THE PRIVACY DEBATE

Autonomous vehicles and connected vehicles are on the horizon. That technology will have the capacity to take control of vehicles away from drivers. Currently in the advanced stage of trials, which seem rather benign; nevertheless, the impact of this technology will be profound.

Touted as a Road safety initiative, the cost is going to be horrendous and will end up being a cost-benefit tragedy. The G-Tag will be a fraction of the cost and a motorist may only need to spend less than $150 to upgrade their current vehicle as opposed to many thousands for autonomous upgrades, if they are at all possible, forcing people to upgrade their vehicles. Their current vehicle will be valued based on recoverable scrap value.

As annoying as that might be, the bigger problem is that an initiative that transmits or receives data creates a risk of being compromised and used for illicit purposes.

As anticipated, the proposal of a G-Tag https://caainc.org.au/the-g-tag-that-can-save-lives/ has faced a mixed reaction. Although supported by most, several people have expressed unease about the privacy aspect of the proposal, ironically a view we share.

We are cognisant that the development of this initiative will take some work, not only the development of the program’s infrastructure but also the management of the Privacy issue.

The key to privacy issues is to restrict the use of data to strictly defined purposes.

The G-Tag takes on a new priority of late, given the alleged staffing issues of Victoria Police. Using Police resources more efficiently becomes a very high priority.

Technology can reduce risks to Police as well as increase efficiency.

People being better informed will see the advantages of a properly managed G-Tag system far outweigh the risks.

To bring perspective to the privacy issue, we must look back to 1981 when Melbourne hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the first international meeting of this type in Australia.

Initially, over twenty (20) CCTV cameras were installed and monitored by the Police; terrorism was a very real threat at that time.

After the event, and based on the issue of privacy, all but five (5) cameras were removed, and the control of the cameras was moved from the Police to Melbourne City Council to appease objections.

Currently, there are well over twelve (12) thousand in the City of Melbourne, and that is not counting cameras privately commercially operated. These cameras generally operate with no accountability for what is done with the data collected. Is this a matter of ignorance or something else entirely?

https://www.comparitech.com/vpn-privacy/the-worlds-most-surveilled-cities/

As with CCTV Cameras, the operation of the G-Tag has no adverse effect on privacy per se; the raw data is benign, the issue is how the data accumulated is used.

The G-Tag does not take pictures but is designed to locate and monitor target vehicles. Showing their location on maps gives the direction of travel and previous travel for a predetermined period.  Police would have the capacity to shut the vehicle down if it posed a threat to the community.

Logically, stolen vehicles could be located when they were reported, increasing the chances of recovering the vehicle immediately and perhaps catching the perpetrator.

Using this system to protect the community from random attacks using vehicles could be minimised.

The very recent murder of criminal heavyweight Gavin ‘Capable’ Preston as he sat having breakfast involved no less than three cars used by the assailants and possibly more.  At least two of them were reported to Police prior to the hit.
A G-Tag system operating on a relevant algorithm could have identified a pattern, of stolen car locations and given police a heads-up, something was happening.
Additionally, the perpetrators would have an uncomfortable shock returning to their planned getaway car to find it is immobilised.
We should be very concerned over this killing as the chances of a criminal War is very real, it was only good luck that an innocent patron of the café was not killed or maimed.

To protect privacy, every vehicle that is tagged or prompts a response, irrespective of the nature of the vehicle’s behaviour, must be recorded with the justification included for any future reference.

The use of cameras and other monitoring tools has become widespread, albeit with minimal impact on privacy. It is essential to establish strict regulations around data management to mitigate any negative consequences and promote transparency. This will instil trust among the public that the system is acting in its best interest, will not cause harm, and is accountable for its actions.

The real harm of these technologies is not the action of collecting data so much, but how that data is used and how it is stored and retrieved. Essentially, encryption of the data will protect it from Hackers and misuse or other unauthorised access for nefarious reasons.

Cameras have come a long way and are a part of life. https://www.theage.com.au/national/every-step-you-take-20050726-ge0kta.html

But cameras are not the only intrusion that we have accepted.

Anybody who,

  • Owns a computer.
  • Shops at a Supermarket.
  • A car
    • Owns, leases or hires.
    • Uses freeways, tollways or major highways.
    • Parks in a major shopping mall.
    • Uses a commercial car park.
    • Insures or registers a car.
  • Uses a card, either loyalty, credit, or other card functions.
  • Has a bank account.
  • Uses medical services.
    • Has Private Health Insurance
    • Has Medicare
    • Any social service interaction.
    • Employment
      • Union Membership.
      • Payee Taxation
    • Has a passport
    • Travels on public transport
    • Any interaction with the Tax Office
    • Interacts with Local Governments
    • Uses services utilities.
    • Attends any educational institutions.
    • Plays sport.
    • Belongs to any social or sporting club.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it shows that just living in a modern society comes with some privacy baggage.

What is important to realise is that, by and large, most of the data collected is benign, and it is largely unregulated, but the collection of this data is not the issue; it is the use of the data that is where things can come undone.

In the design and development of the G-Tag system, as much care must be applied to protecting privacy as goes into designing the operations.

The G-Tag is capable of monitoring any vehicle on our roads, and that is what causes some angst, but your individual privacy is assured by the following safeguards.

  • There are over five million vehicles in Victoria, so the best system could only track targeted vehicles, so the average motorist has nothing to fear.
  • Vehicle tracking must have an expiry date, and the tracking justification must be retained securely.
  • The unauthorised release of data collected by the system needs to be a criminal offence.
  • A vehicle driver, either a missing person or an overdue traveller, would, in many cases, use the G-Tag system. Police can safely intercept them to check their welfare. It would be up to the driver whether their details are passed to those who made the original report. This will avoid obvious misuse of the system.
  • Only sworn Police can operate the system or access data. (Police are the most accountable and suitable for the task).
  • All data must be encrypted to avoid hacking.
  • An independent Board including Police executives, Government representatives and an equal number of non-aligned members of the public to provide a monitoring and evaluation function.

If, however, you own or drive a car that is ten years old or younger, the chances are that you are already being monitored by the manufacturer, and the Limp Home Mode function or the capacity to shut a vehicle down already exists in vast numbers of the Victorian fleet.

The question posed is, would you rather be covered by a transparent authorised function in Victoria or the unregulated actions of overseas manufacturers and perhaps dealerships?

Today, most transport fleet operators, hire car firms, and many Government departments and authorities install tracking devices in their vehicles, often unbeknown to the driver.

Although, that data is managed in Australia, how do you feel about using a car that transmits unregulated data to another country? Probably not an issue with friendly countries, but what of the countries that are not?

It raises concerns for national security that a foreign power could potentially track and shut down large portions of the vehicle fleet or individually targeted vehicles in the country as an act of aggression or terrorism.

With all the risks we are exposed to, the G-Tag proposal is somewhat innocuous.

VIOLENCE ON THE STREETS OF MELBOURNE: WE NEED A ZERO-TOLERANCE POLICY

VIOLENCE ON THE STREETS OF MELBOURNE: WE NEED A ZERO-TOLERANCE POLICY

If you speak to former senior police officers, they will tell you they fear an outbreak similar to the drug wars of Mokbel, Williams and others in the 1990s and the bike gang wars in the 2000s.

The murder last week of a former bikie and convicted killer, in one of Melbourne’s most prestigious and famous suburbs barely 3 km from the heart of Melbourne’s CBD is an ominous sign.

What leads someone to flagrantly walk up in a well-lit area (albeit late at night,but maybe not for the nightclub scene) and brazenly shoot a person who is walking with another in what is a busy part of Melbourne?

Put aside the personal animosity and/or financial motives that encourage this type of brazen behaviour, it is a total disrespect of our laws that concerns us most. This disrespect has been brought about by very poor government policy at both the state and council levels. We have at all levels of government a soft-on-crime policy that simply encourages people to disrespect the law, the police, and worse, their fellow members of society.

And it is not just one bad policy decision but a combination of many that drives this behaviour. If you are shown that there are little or no consequences for breaching the law, then many bad actors will breach the law.

We now have this on a scale I have never seen before, and the last straw has been the Spent Convictions Act.

This is perhaps the craziest piece of legislation I have ever come across. Sure, spent convictions for minor offences, especially when committed whilst young, is good policy. But to allow a person convicted of a serious offence, violence, robbery/home invasion or fraud to apply for their convictions to be spent secretly is bad policy.

The hearings (if at all as a magistrate can act without a hearing) are private and only the Attorney General, Police Commissioner, and the convicted felon appear. But what is crazy is that not only does a victim of a crime have no say but it is a crime for that victim ever to mention the conviction.

So, a person who was beaten up by their husband has to endure that person living next door to them when they are released from jail and cannot say to anyone (without committing an offence) that they are petrified of living in the same street. They cannot even disclose their fears to a treating medical practitioner. Ditto for a sex offender. Whilst working for children, disclosures are allowed under the legislation; as we have seen recently in Queensland, sex offenders will game the system. And if you are a victim, you can say nothing!

Any criminal can apply to have their conviction spent (provided they spent no more than 5 years in jail.). Why worry about being caught if you can get your conviction spent. The policy is bad for public safety, accountability and recidivism prevention. It disregards victims’ rights and justice and will be exploited by criminals.

Then let us turn to raising the age of criminal responsibility. Initially it is being raised from 10 to 12 and then in 2027 to 14. We have all seen in the USA that children are capable of committing horrendous crimes through accessing firearms. We see the same here with knives and blunt objects. Worse, this simply encourages adults to use children (just under 14) to be criminal mules. They will invade homes, break into cars, sell drugs and set upon rival gang members with no fear of facing the criminal justice system. All to assist their adult controllers.

We have also had the crime of public drunkenness removed. This was a tool used by police to ensure public safety, including the safety of the drunken person. It was used sensibly. It got what could turn into an ugly situation into a controllable situation, often with the intoxicated person going into a lockup for a few hours and then being released.

We cannot have our streets full of drunken persons, young persons encouraged to commit crimes because of no recourse nor homeless, drug dealers and petty criminals. But this is happening. We can see it every day as you walk through the streets of Melbourne. And those charged with keeping our streets safe are losing the tools to do so.

I finish with the “safe injecting rooms”. This is council and state government policy that has ruined parts of Richmond and will do so in the CBD. It will encourage dealers, street prostitutes and all sorts of criminals to fill our streets. It will discourage people from visiting the CBD and be a disaster for local businesses.

Bad policy delivers bad results. Rather than being soft on crime as our politicians have shown to be, we should have zero tolerance for crime.

REPREHENSIBLE CONDUCT WITHOUT ACCOUNTABILITY – A DISGRACE

REPREHENSIBLE CONDUCT WITHOUT ACCOUNTABILITY – A DISGRACE

29th July 2023

In 2018, the full High Court found  – “Victoria Police were guilty of reprehensible conduct in knowingly encouraging [Gobbo] to do as she did and were involved in sanctioning atrocious breaches of the sworn duty of every police officer”.

Of course, they could not do that on their own and needed the support or involvement of Officers of the Court – Lawyers.

The Herald Sun July 27, 2023, pp1, 6-7, refers to a number of Justice figures demanding a review of the decision not to pursue charges in the Lawyer X case and notes that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerri Judd, had represented former Chief Commissioner, Simon Overland, in legal proceeding raising concerns about a serious conflict of interest. The calls for a review of the decision are supported by Senior legal officials, including a former Vice President of the Victorian Bar Council.

It should be noted that former High Court Judge, Geoffrey Nettle AC KC, has expressed serious concerns about the decision of Judd not to bring prosecutions.

The Community Advocacy Alliance Inc., (CAA), since January 2020, has published several articles on our website relating to the Lawyer X scandal, highly critical of the conduct of Gobbo and senior police involved in this fiasco and calling for those responsible to be held to account.  We are in total support of the calls for an independent assessment of the evidence, and if that assessment supports the laying of charges against police or anyone else, demand that this be done expeditiously.

Only then can we, the public, be confident that justice is not only done but seen to be done.

The current status puts perpetrators above the law.

****

Extracts from our articles are set out below with links to full articles.

YOUR MOVE PREMIER -LAWYER X

CAA | Jun 25, 2023, https://caainc.org.au/your-move-premier-lawyer-x/

When Law enforcement becomes law-breaking, there must be accountabilities. The continuing saga of the Lawyer-X criminality by law enforcement appears to be one of the most serious overreaches by serving police personnel in Legal History…

LAWYER X FAILURE TO PROSECUTEAN ABSOLUTE DISGRACE

CAA | Jun 22, 2023, https://caainc.org.au/lawyer-x-failure-to-prosecute-an-absolute-disgrace/

Once again, we see the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) refusing to act on clear and compelling evidence of the commission of criminal offences.

When the Special Investigator, Geoffrey Nettle AC KC, a former Justice of the High Court of Australia, the highest court in the Australian court hierarchy, recommends prosecutions, one could reasonably think that the evidence of the commission of criminal offences must be clear and compelling…

LAWYER-X ACCUSED MUST FACE COURT

June 23, 2023, https://caainc.org.au/lawyer-x-accused-must-face-court/

The continuing saga of the Lawyer-X criminality by law enforcement appears to be one of the most serious overreaches by serving police personnel in Legal History. How can it be that nobody is going to be held accountable?

LAWYER X – IT’S NOT JUST THE COPS

CAA | Dec 6, 2020, https://caainc.org.au/lawyer-x-its-not-just-the-cops/

From the outset, it must be made clear that the CAA does not support the use of lawyer Gobbo by the Victoria Police in the way it was done; it was unlawful, and Gobbo and the executive Police responsible must be held to account before the Law…

LAWYER X – THE AFTERMATH

CAA | Sep 2, 2020, https://caainc.org.au/lawyer-x-the-aftermath/

Nobel cause corruption’ (the ends justify the means) is as unlawful as the normal interpretation of corruption. It diminishes the role of the Police in our society, as has the behaviours of the Police executive who promoted and or failed to manage the Lawyer X calamity and whose leadership was lacking throughout…

MANAGING POLICE INFORMERS LIKE GOBBO & ALLEN

CAA | Feb 9, 2020, https://caainc.org.au/managing-police-informers-like-gobbo-allen/

Failing to recognise a loss of objectivity is evident in the Gobbo matter and a damming indictment of the police executives’ lack of competence. The buck, however, stops with the Chief Commissioner and in this protracted affair, no less than four Chief Commissioners failed to resolve or wheel in this train wreck, and each of them took the same Oath to the other Police involved…

THE GOBBO SHOW ROLLS ON…

CAA | Jan 4, 2020,  https://caainc.org.au/the-gobo-show-rolls-on/

Many Victorians were sceptical of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants. As the process started, most public sentiment towards the Royal Commission was, it is a waste of time because even if the Police tactics were not kosher with lawyers, the end justified the means.

After all, we are not talking about the pillars of society, but murderers and drug lords being locked up, and that is a good thing, isn’t it?

As many Victorians have watched the evolution of this Commission, attitudes are changing…

****

The community is quickly realising that the old adage, ‘whether you are a prince or pauper, saint or sinner’, we are, and should all be, equal before the Law. Although in Victoria, depending on who you are, that principle is corrupted.

Culpability must also extend to those executives that conspired to cover up the actions of this artifice, whether by use of the legal system or otherwise, that only served to extend and exacerbate the original reprehensible behaviour. In many ways, their behaviour is more reprehensible than the original architects.

They all must have known what was going on. It is fanciful to suggest that authorising or orchestrating a cover-up without knowing what you are covering up beggar’s belief.

It is also bordering on fanciful that lawyers, particularly those who conspired with Victoria Police to hide the Gobbo matters using the Courts, didn’t know what was going on. Remember that lawyers are Officers of the Court, and with that goes obligations that some may well have breached.

Equally, there are no doubt senior Police Officers, many still serving, who were totally cognisant of what was happening and the criminal and moral culpability but chose to support or take no action against the perpetrators and are therefore equally complicit.

The Police’s disgraceful and conscious dismissal of their principles in their oath of office brings great shame on them and all Victoria Police, serving, and who have served – something they will have to live with forever.

The only way to deal with this matter is to purge the culprits and give genuine Police, Lawyers and the community some reason to have confidence in the Legal system by removing this dark shadow.

We can only hope and encourage that the day of reckoning is sooner rather than later.

APATHY IS KILLING DEMOCRACY IN VICTORIA.

APATHY IS KILLING DEMOCRACY IN VICTORIA.

29th of June 2023

The apathy of citizens, in general, has always been a problem in every democracy.

There is nowhere that this is more evident than in politics in Victoria.

Governments of every political persuasion have a duty to act ethically, be accountable to the electorate and be competent.

The Community Advocacy Alliance Inc. (CAA) has no political affiliations. If the Government of the day is failing to meet the required standards, we will be highly critical regardless of the political party in power, be that Labor, Liberal, Greens or any other Party or Coalition.

This is a fundamental principle in our determination to try to give a voice to the largely unheard people of this State. Those of us who do care.

We certainly have been and will continue to be, highly critical of the current Labor Government led by Premier Daniel Andrews.

Our criticism is not about Labor’s politics but solely about their behaviour.

Examples of incompetence and misconduct abound.

At the top of the list is the 800+ deaths in the Quarantine debacle. The waste of about $1.2 million on the cancellation of the Eastlink Freeway extension. The “Red Shirts Rort”, which saw Labor pay back just under $400,000, the Lawyer X fiasco, “Slug Gate”, and Ministers rorting their travelling allowances, just to name a few.

Politicians ferrying pets or using a Govermremt vehicle for their private business; this type of behaviour is unacceptable.

Every major project undertaken by Labor has cost overruns of not millions but billions of dollars. Victoria’s debt is greater than three other Australian States. Does this seem like a competent Government? Your money, taxpayers.

The North-South Pipeline that cost billions is a classic act of budgetary vandalism and never has been and is not likely to be ever used. Not being prepared to accept the error of this project, we are paying for expensive maintenance – for what benefit? The Desal plant was built at the same time to drought-proof the State, so why a North-South Pipeline was ever a viable or necessary project is seriously questionable.

No Political party has the ticker or competence to accept reality and stop wasting money on maintenance and recycle what is recoverable from the project. If, at some future time, the Pipeline is required, the savings achieved will comfortably pay for the reestablishment. The most expensive part, the pipes, will remain serviceable.

It is strange that none of this seems to resonate with electors.

All of these matters cost taxpayers millions of dollars annually, and yet most of us do nothing.

Apathy reigns supreme.

The CAA implores every voter to get involved and demand the highest standards of behaviour from whichever political party is in power.

Unless this happens, anarchy will remain a grave danger to our democracy.

YOUR MOVE PREMIER -LAWYER X

YOUR MOVE PREMIER -LAWYER X

26th June 2023

Premier, time to pick up the phone. Two quick phone calls will resolve the impasse in determining the gult or innocense of individuals involved in the Lawyer -X affair.

A demonstration of leadership.

The calls will not compromise the independence of either party. All that needs to be done is that advice is given for both parties to cooperate in the best interest of the administration of the Law.

Both parties are eminent legal professionals, so a quiet word from you and everything can move on.

The impasse that has evolved between the Director of Prosecutions (DPP) Kerri Judd KC and former High Court judge Geoffrey Nettle, Special prosecutor (OSI) tasked with investigating whether criminal charges should be made against a number of people in the Lawyer-X affair, does not serve our Legal process well.

The issue is over the authority to prosecute, and in our view, the failure to give the Special Prosecutor power to prosecute was a significant failing.

Although we only have access to public information, we are bemused that the issue between the two legal heavyweights has tended to focus on the offence of Misconduct in Public Office. Undoubtedly, this offence could apply to many of the individuals accused.

We are somewhat mystified why the offence of Conspiracy to pervert the course of Justice has perhaps not been pursued, as it very obviously threaded through the whole artifice and would allow the Courts to properly dispense appropriate Justice depending on the roles of the perpetrators responsible for the entire artifice.

The Lawyer-X scandal has spanned many years at an eye-watering cost to the public purse without resolution, and the Special Prosecutor, a recommendation of the Royal Commission,  was a positive step to bringing the matter to a conclusion, resolved by the Courts, enabling a line to be drawn under the matter.

The community will be outraged at the expenditure without resolution of these matters by a court. Equally, the potential of the guilty walking free without accounting to a Court for what was described as egregious behaviour is unacceptable at any level.

The community is developing an increasingly jaundiced view of the lack of resolution in matters, particularly where corruption by officials of the State is inferred.

Further, without resolution, the deterrent effect, a critical function of the administration of the Law against repetition in the future, is lost, and the sanctity of Client Lawyer privilege is forever diluted and compromised.

There has been a series of Legal issues allowed to drift into the ether without a proper resolution,

  • The Red Shirts. Alleged misuse of public monies, which may have involved criminality, that may have unfairly interfered with the electoral process.
  • The Quarantine fiasco . Allegedly responsible for the deaths of over eighty Victorians during the COVID pandemic.
  • I-Cooks Foods What seems to be a conspiracy by Public Officers to shut down a private business because it competed in a market space the Government moved into.
  • Premiers Vehicle crash. Involving a cyclist, many suspicions and contradictions place serious concerns that the truth has not been told, and a cover-up of the facts was embarked upon.
  • The non-prosecution of politicians. A number of politicians clearly identified as rorting the system of parliamentary allowances, theft by deception. Officials would not hesitate to prosecute this behaviour if it happened outside of the political sphere.

The pattern is now actual, and the uncertainty created by non-resolution runs the risk of the whole Government being known for cover-ups, irrespective of whether there was one. The confidence of the community can become irreparably damaged.

Additionally, the attorney has very scant knowledge of the Legal system and is embarrassingly exposed as a lightweight on legal matters.

The trashing of legal professional privilege is a critical legal principle, and appropriate penalties must be imposed to reduce the likelihood of it ever happening again.

Ordinarily, we would be recommending that the Attorney General intervene; however, according to reports in the Herald Sun on 24th June 2023, Jacklyn Symes MP, our Chief Law Officer, Attorney General (AG), said,

“…it would be wildly inappropriate to give the OSI prosecutorial powers.”

“We have an investigative body; it’s not appropriate for an investigative body to then decide they are the prosecutor as well,” she said.”

This claim by the AG is remarkable in its naivety of the legal process and standard practices operating in our legal system.

Disgraceful from our highest Legal officer.

The AG is wrong in her assertions about prosecutions.

There is a proliferation of organisations within the government system that then have ‘wildly inappropriate powers’ as  investigators and prosecutors, including,

Police   –    Local government    –     VicRoads     –      IBAC    –    Health Department    –     Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department, and others, – also including some Government authorities.

The reality is that most prosecutions undertaken on the State’s behalf are made by agencies other than the DPP. The AG’s interpretation is breathtakingly mistaken.

The DDP’s role only becomes evident in matters that may end up in a Court higher than the Magistrates Court. The DPP Act give the DPP responsibility to act as the prosecutor in such matters.

Other than a direct presentment, rarely used, accused persons are subject to a Committal hearing, where a Magistrate rules on whether there is a Prima facie case for the accused to answer, a fail-safe part of our Legal system.

We call on the Premier to exercise leadership and either support the proposed Opposition bill on this issue or make a couple of calls to resolve this tiff between two professionals and allow the legal process to proceed.

It would be criminal of itself not to have this matter proceed and the multimillions of dollars invested in this process wasted.

REPREHENSIBLE CONDUCT WITHOUT ACCOUNTABILITY – A DISGRACE

LAWYER-X ACCUSED MUST FACE COURT

23rd of June 2023

When Law enforcement becomes law-breaking, there must be accountabilities.

The continuing saga of the Lawyer-X criminality by law enforcement appears to be one of the most serious overreaches by serving police personnel in Legal History. How can it be that nobody is going to be held accountable?

As serious as this issue is, the resolution casts a darker pall over the entire legal system and severely damages the cornerstone of its success, community confidence in the legal system.

When the Victorian Government appointed the Special Investigator, former Australian High Court Judge Justice Nettle, there was hope that what he found, would be addressed. The current Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Kerri Judd KC, is reported to be at an impasse with the Special Investigator with regard to the charging of key people in this matter.

Justice Nettle has impeccable credentials, being part of the full Bench of the High Court when it handed down the unanimous decision dealing with Police actions in and around Lawyer X. The Court determined there were ‘Fundamental and Appalling Breachers, of proper police behaviour’; and potential criminality by Police and others in the management of the informer Lawyer-X. After years of delays because, in part, the actions of previous Victoria Police administrations, in retrospect, were clearly designed to protect themselves, not action to facilitate a legal outcome.

It seems that some actions by Victoria Police were in the best interest of the Chief Commissioners of the day and other executive Police. It is not so clear that they served the proper application of the law.

A conflict of interest of mammoth proportions is now apparent.

Decisions by VicPol executives in legal matters seem to have been designed to protect Chief Commissioners who could be facing criminal charges, legal actions which were authorised by those very same Commissioners who may stand accused of unlawful acts. It is possible this protection went further than the Chief Commissioners and included legal entities of that time, some of whom are now sitting Judges.

Is the Government trying to save itself from embarrassment, knowing that if this matter was to go to Court, it would expose those who received promotion or appointments by the Government while their illegal involvement, if any, in the Lawyer-X fiasco was known? The CAA has noted that legal practitioners who represented the Government or its Ministers and Senior Bureaucrats have been regularly promoted to the Bench after their work for the Government.

Interestingly, the media in Western Australia have reported that,

“Nicola Gobbo was prepared to plead guilty to perverting the course of justice and testify against Victorian police officers, including a senior figure in the gang-busting Purana taskforce, over their involvement in a “joint criminal enterprise.”

– WA Today, 21st June 2023.

The offer to plead guilty would only have only one purpose, to mitigate any sentence imposed.

The big concern for some is that once she achieved a benefit for offering to testify against the Police, who else will she then offer to testify against? What other intelligence on the activities of others could be made public to further her advantage?

A leopard doesn’t change its spots; once an informer, always an informer, and Gobbo will use the information (power) she possesses for her own benefit.

Offering to testify against the Police is simply the first card she is dealing with. No doubt she has many more to play.

If the evidence is not there, a committal hearing will determine whether there is a prima facie case. And then it is up to a Judge and jury. A Magistrate may determine that there is no prima facie case and dismiss the matter rather than have it unresolved. We acknowledge that the DPP has the power she has exercised, but that does not make the application of that power right.

The CAA strongly believes that the DPP’s decisions must be questioned as they appear not to be in the public interest. The public can reasonably expect this identified egregious behaviour to be determined by a court. It does not differ from any other heinous crime, and no statute of limitations applies.

Additionally, the argument about lapsed time is disingenuous as the Courts regularly determine the guilt or innocence of accused persons who may have committed offences decades ago, as with some sexual, fraud and capital offences.

The argument over whether there is a likelihood of a conviction in this matter seems somewhat premature as the briefs are not all finished. As is normal practice in complex matters, the DPP has been included in the investigative process; however, deciding before the race is run is problematic.

Running the cost argument is also disingenuous as the multi-million price tag already spent is a complete waste if the matters do not go to Court, particularly when the cost to finalise these matters is probably quite a lot less than was spent getting to this stage.

Even so, the arguments put forward by DPP Judd are tenuous because the broader community needs and is entitled to know the innocence or guilt of the people involved. We note that some continue to hold senior positions.

This is, and should form, the central piece of decisions by Judd as it reflects wholly on the Judicial system and the Police.

Corruption often hides in the shadows. To restore a measure of confidence in the legal system, the DPP must allow light to shine on the allegations. We cannot continue to operate in the dark.

LAWYER X Failure to Prosecute – an Absolute Disgrace

LAWYER X Failure to Prosecute – an Absolute Disgrace

Once again, we see the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) refusing to act on clear and compelling evidence of the commission of criminal offences.

When the Special Investigator, Geoffrey Nettle AC KC  is a former Justice of the High Court of Australia, the highest court in the Australian court hierarchy, recommends prosecutions, one, could reasonably think that the evidence of the commission of criminal offences must be clear and compelling.

That the DPP could conclude that a court would not convict flies in the face of common sense.  Surely, given the qualifications of Geoffrey Nettle, a jury should decide guilt or innocence.

How can the DPP be made accountable for such an inexplicable decision?

Why should a long-suffering public not be outraged that perpetrators identified by Nettel do not face the courts?

The actions of Gobbo and, by extension, others, were found by the High Court as ‘Fundamental and appalling breaches‘, yet the DPP is unwilling to put the perpetrators before the Courts.

The Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) calls for the immediate resignation of Kerri Judd KC.  Anything less means the State is condoning crime.

THE POLICE STAFFING STORM-IS IT OF THEIR OWN MAKING?

Queesnsland Police graduation.

5th April 2023

This question is not an allegation and is posed in response to an article that appeared in the Guardian on the 12th of May 2021 under the headline ‘Queensland police discriminated against 200 potential male recruits in favour of women’ and sent to the CAA by a concerned reader of our recent article ‘Police staffing faces a perfect storm’.
https://caainc.org.au/police-staffing-faces-a-perfect-storm/
Whether this has applied in Victoria, we do not know, but anecdotal information has been consistent that male recruit applicants are routinely discarded without giving a reason. They have apparently not been advised of any deficiencies so that they can address them, which seems unfair.
Moreover, the number and ratio of Police Training squads is no firm indication as to whether there is discrimination because we do not know if all the female recruits have been selected on merit and the males used to fill up the numbers.
This leads to the suspicion that an ‘aspirational ‘(euphemism for discrimination) gender quoter system may be being applied in Victoria.
The Guardian article reports on the findings of the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission which said, ‘…the state police service’s 50/50 recruitment strategy resulted in discriminatory practices being used against male candidates.’
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/may/12/queensland-police-discriminated-against-200-potential-male-recruits-in-favour-of-women-report-finds

As a result of the findings, three QPS employees responsible for the practice have been suspended, and a fourth had already left the service.

Interestingly the role of those suspended QPS employees and their rank were not disclosed. However, the Corruption Commission was clear on where the problems lay, senior command.

We would like to be reassured that this process has not been in action in Victoria because if it has, then it is inevitable that the position will be challenged at some stage.
Building transperancy in to the system is essential.
If it is in operation, either officially or otherwise, it is in direct contravention of the Equal Opportunities Act 1995 Section 16, which prohibits discrimination on a number of Attributes – amongst the list of attributes is gender and race, along with a number of others.

Equal Opportunities Act 1995

Part 4—When is discrimination prohibited?

Division 1—Discrimination in Employment

       16   Discrimination against job applicants
An employer must not discriminate against a person—
                         (a)  in determining who should be offered employment; or
                         (b)  in the terms on which employment is offered to the person; or
                         (c)  by refusing or deliberately omitting to offer employment to the person; or
                (d)  by denying the person access to a guidance program, an apprenticeship                              training program or other occupational training or retraining program.
Alarmingly, potential recruits in Victoria spend nearly a thousand dollars preparing for their assessment.
Spending that sort of money, it is reasonable that the applicants can be confident the selection process is fair and legal. With the cost, apart from being a clear disincentive, it eliminates many potential recruits who are financially disadvantaged.
We struggle to find any other career stream where applicants have to cover the costs of the employer in their assessment.
Being poor is not an egregious attribute. Arguably, people in this cohort may be better equipped for a Policing role with their life experiences with perhaps compassion and understanding. It also disadvantages specific ethnic and other sectors of the community.

The discrimination against this group shrinks the potential recruiting pool.

Recruiting for any Police Force is a critical function and determines the future of that organisation; therefore, it is imperative that all recruits are treated equally and according to the Law.
Applying discrimination in the recruiting process is unconscionable, given the expectations of successful recruits.
The community reasonably expects Police to act impartially without fear or favour, including swearing an oath to that effect. It expects the same from the organisation.
The CAA sincerely hopes that the Queensland experience has not operated in Victoria.
If it has, the community is entitled to know and needs to be reassured that the matter is fixed and those responsible have been dealt with.
Starting a career in the shadow of processes based on inequality or bias is no way to expect good outcomes, particularly when it is in direct contravention of Legislation. That inequity and bias can be ingrained at the start of a police career suggests it is unlikely that it will not have a deleterious effect on the individual’s performance during their career.
A Police member performing their duty does not police only one sector of the community, but all, and must apply the Law equally. Therefore, it matters not the gender, ethnicity, or other personal traits of applicants; what matters is the application of the Law.
That the makeup of a Police Force is from a broad church is a good thing, but when quotas are applied, it is counterproductive.
The CAA has no issue with and welcomes female Police recruits to the organisation, as it does for any ethnicity or from anywhere on the social economic scale: the Force is better for it.
However, we feel that any discrimination is repugnant and reflects poorly on the organisation as it places a shadow over many members who never know whether they were appointed on merit, gender, or ethnic-based quota systems.
This does not lead to a cohesive and effective workforce.

POLICE STAFFING FACES A PERFECT STORM.

2nd of April 2023

It is of serious concern to the community that Victoria Police is apparently having difficulty recruiting sufficient numbers to fill the vacancies created by retirements and other staff exits.

Not only will the community feel the impact of the Police not being available to respond to their needs, but Police will endure substantial frustration not having proper numbers available, with an increased workload falling on those still there. This will substantially accelerate the loss of members through stress-related issues.

We do not need to look too far over the horizon to see a perfect storm brewing into an untenable situation or even a crisis for the Force, and the community, because they are both inextricably linked.

The four significant contributors converging are.

  • Stress on Police

There has been, and continues to be, an escalation in Police leaving due to stress-related issues.

  • Recruits are difficult to attract.

The Force is having difficulty attracting suitable recruits in the current employment environment.

  • Public employee staff cuts

The most recent announcement by the Government to make a substantial cut in Public Service employees, with, at this stage, emergency services, Police, ambulance and Fire services not been quarantined. The impact will be devastating.

  • Impact of Migration

And to magnify the impact of these issues, the net migration intake has exploded, with hundreds of thousands of migrants arriving in Victoria.

What can be done? Quite a lot, actually, and putting one’s head in the sand waiting for the inevitable is not one of them. Secondly, VicPol, as tempting as it may be, must not lower its standards but devise creative ways to cover this shortfall. Altering standards is short-sighted and will lead to worse outcomes down the track. Kicking the can down the road is not a good management strategy.

  • Stress on Police

In our view, there has been less than appropriate management for many members suffering from stress over an extended period. Management seemingly takes the easy way out and funnels members with stress out of the job rather than the more difficult task of facilitating or working with clinicians to overcome the issue. Management lacks the capacity to be innovative and create pathways for solutions to help relieve the stress on individuals, and that anomaly must be addressed

Many members who have left suffering PTSI have two common threads.

    • Police management was a major contributor to the degree of their stress injury, and
    • Following close behind were the insurers and either Workover or Gallagher Bassett, contributing to their issues.

Some sufferers seemed to have been more affected by the above two issues than the issues that caused their stress in the first place. If that seems a contradiction, it is, but they are both issues that should be capable of being addressed relatively easily with VicPol management commitment. Somewhere in the order of fifty per cent of the aggravating problems could be reduced substantially, improving the chances of retaining the member as a worthwhile contributor.

We have always believed that expecting a person suffering, either suspected or confirmed PTSI, to negotiate on their own behalf is unconscionable; they are injured. So instead, each member must be appointed a case manager to assist them with making sound decisions. Implementing such a scheme is essential, but the advocate must be given influence within the organisation, or otherwise, they will be ineffective.

A case manager needs the minimum following attributes;

Maturity -intimate knowledge of Police culture -deep understanding of Force policies, procedures and structure – advanced life skills – proven leadership and communication skills.

Former senior Police officers would be ideally suited for this task.

  • Recruits difficult to attract.

The current employment environment and the image trashing VicPol has suffered in recent years are forces working against the flow of recruits.

The current marketing campaign’s underlying message is ‘ come play with our toys’.

That approach has been tried before without remarkable success and, on some levels, is insulting to the calibre of recruits VicPol would want to attract.

A campaign ‘’are you good enough’ will pay closer to the psych of the recruits VicPol should favour.

Anecdotal feedback suggests that police veterans’ children, who should be a fertile recruiting ground felt they were discriminated against in the recruiting process.

Whether this is a fair criticism, we do not know, but we do know little effort is made to provide a pathway for this potential market.

Although there are signs of improvement, the treatment of veterans by all levels of VicPol has been very negative and also contributed to this resource not producing the number of recruits it could.

  • Public employee staff cuts.

As unpalatable as this is, it will probably only be the Police Association that attacks the Government; VicPol can’t.

However, VicPol can be very smart. These cuts are all about saving money for the Government.

This is work for specialist Actuarial and Financial analytical experts working with creative Police management generally but more specifically in recruiting and staff  resorucing.

VicPol, to its credit, started the move towards establishing a viable reserve, now advertising for former Police to return for a specialised task. That will be an economic saving while achieving Force objectives.

While small-scale, it can be built on.

Although marketing this first approach is a bit rough around the edges, arguably insulting applicants before they consider the offer is not a sensible approach. Nevertheless, it is a positive move and should be lauded, not criticised, by a minority of veterans, as is currently the case.

A stumbling block often put forward is that Police veterans are no longer sworn Police.

For a very long time, Police who had retired retained their Certificate of Identity. The privilege of retaining their ID has never been abused by the thousands of Veterans who have kept them, it is a respect thing.

The same would apply if the Police Regulation Act was amended so that Police veterans retained their status as sworn. At the discretion of the Chief Commissioner, who may withdraw the privilege from individuals if circumstances arise.

The judicious use of these Veterans would save money while maintaining and improving the police service. Retired members are often a bit physically frayed through age, but that does not affect their mental acuity; it just means they can’t jump fences chasing crooks anymore, probably the same for many older members still serving.

It is hoped that VicPol is closely looking at the Military Reserve model for inspiration rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.

  • Impact of Migration

The number of migrants that will be calling Victoria home over the next little while is bordering on scary, particularly if you are charged with the responsibility of ensuring law and order for this new cohort that will come with its own set of cultural and other values that may not be compatible with Australian values or laws.

Of course, VicPol has been dealing with this issue for many years very successfully, as we are a migrant country and welcome their contribution. But we do not recall a time when so many are likely to arrive with issues that we cannot predict . While many commentators focus on the lack of infrastructure to accommodate the large influx, nobody seems to have applied their minds to the impact on Policing.

From a Policing perspective this influx is a bit like getting kicked when you are already on the ground.

Policing could be overwhelmed, leading to chaos.

The migration issue is a classic political move where one arm of the Government makes a decision to serve its needs, and dealing with the consequences is hived off to another level where the pain is really felt.

What we have set out is the prediction of a perfect storm bearing down on VicPol, the damage that may be caused is perhaps irreversible.

The CAA is alerting the organisation so that planning to deal with this perfect storm to be faced, can be escalated to the highest priority to minimise the inevitable damage.

DRUNKS

DRUNKS

19th March 2023

Public drunkenness is now under partisan political consideration—another half-baked approach to Public Policy.

Drunkenness has been a community issue since time immemorial, and there is no empirical data to show it is any worse or otherwise than it has been for many decades, relative to the size of the population.

Decriminalising public drunkenness is fixing a problem that does not exist to any significant degree.

As public drunkenness can be confused with homelessness, vagrancy, mental illness and drug abuse, it is, therefore, sensible that the ‘sobering up’ process should be done under medical supervision, which the Community Advocacy Alliance Inc. (CAA) supports. Equally, because the likelihood of belligerent behaviour is inclined to be more prevalent with drunkenness, securing and safety of these people and the community is and must remain a Police responsibility.

Once the affected person settles and the community is safe, the police can hand them to a facility where clinicians take responsibility.

This whole policy seems to have been designed by people without experience with drunks in the field.

Perhaps a little research should be undertaken, and then the proponents of this social adjustment may just find the number of persons convicted each year for drunkenness as a percentage of the population is meagre. And of those arrested and charged, even fewer are actually convicted, and no record of their indiscretion is recorded.

We reject absolutely the need for racial profiling in this process. Irrespective of the drunk’s heritage or race, they all need the same care.

Exposing the naivety of this proposal, the Herald Sun reports, “Patients at the sobering up site can only be taken with their consent and police or paramedics will need to step in if they become a safety risk or need urgent care.”

This statement alone raises very serious questions and exposes a lack of knowledge of a drunk person’s usual demeanour or the law.

  1. With decriminalising drunkenness, the Police have no power to ‘Step-in’ when the contractor’s management of the drunk goes pear-shaped.
  2. Drunks always consider they are not drunk enough to need care or admit to what they have consumed.
  3. A person who is perceived to be drunk cannot give Informed consent at law.
  4. Entering into a debate about sobriety, consent or otherwise, is a recipe for belligerence.
  5. Our experience is it would be a rare drunk who would agree to the time out in the drunk tank.
  6. How can a government sub-contractor physically intervene with a drunk?
  7. What happens when a drunk is involved in a crime, either as a victim or a perpetrator – it does happen?
  8. A serious risk assessment for contractors out on the street without powers is a disaster waiting to happen. The legal minefield this opens up for the liability of the government and contractors is breathtaking.
  9. Another legal minefield will occur when the drunk decides they are sober enough to leave the facility, but the clinicians know they are not. Holding them even with their uninformed consent would be unlawful. (currently, Police have four hours to detain somebody who is drunk.)
  10. Contractors will find difficulty hiring or retaining staff for this high-risk and filthy foul job.
  11. Another small matter is suitable transport for drunks. The inevitable mess that often is associated with their transport is why police use a Divisional Van that can be hosed out. Putting a drunk in a traditional vehicle is impractical as vomit and other bodily fluids often exuded by drunks tend to permeate every nook and cranny and cannot be removed easily.
  12. The consequence of placing multiple drunks in a facility not properly designed, quasi cells, will lead to inevitable conflict and a huge risk to clinicians.

All police know that when it is determined that a person is drunk, they must be decisive, not enter into debate and secure the drunk immediately to minimise the risk of injury to the drunk, the Police or the public. This skill is learnt and cannot be assumed to exist with untrained subcontractors. A questionnaire is no substitute for years of onsite experience.

The police power of arrest for drunk and disorderly must be left in place to protect the drunks, the Police and the public.

A pattern is now evolving with Political police. This is currently developing into the go-to solution for government initiatives. These new ‘Drunks Police’ have all the hallmarks of another enforcement arm of the government, as we experienced during the COVID pandemic.

Every Victorian should be very concerned about this move as it can lead to a Socialist state policed by Political apparatchiks who are not accountable to the State but to a political party. Untrained but politically accountable without independence to apply the drunks policy impartially.

Rather than contracting out these services, perhaps that funding should be applied to Policing and Ambulance services rather than an expensive contracting arrangement with our money, or will that money be borrowed?

With minimal cost, ‘Drunk Tanks’ are the answer and are legally more palatable. Drunks or other intoxicated people can be placed in clinicians’ care at these Tanks, and the problem is effectively solved.

It certainly gives the impression that those pushing these reforms care little about the individuals or do not comprehend the likely consequential outcomes and effects.

What is most disturbing is that the government is seeking solutions from bidding contractors, “..bidders have also been asked detail how their staff will respond to difficult situations.” Herald Sun 15th March ’23.

This proposition is preposterous, to say the least – how does a proper tendering process work if the bidder writes the policy? There is no way this can be an efficient or reasonable tendering process, with each bidder making their own rules, and it is an admission beyond doubt that the government does not know what it is doing and hopes a contractor will.

This issue has a whiff of appeasing a small cabal of extremists who claim to represent all of us. Well, they do not.

The only plan we can detect is a plan to introduce unnecessary change, popular with a small number of social reformers, intent on breaking down the structure of our democratic society and, in turn, our democracy, with crime and substance abuse rampant, destroying a sizeable ever-growing cohort of wasted lives at an astronomical cost to the community.

Drunk Tanks are like Drug shooting galleries – they do not address the issue but perpetuate it.

It seems obvious the extremist’s grand plan is to weaken society, allowing the growth of autocratic leadership to determine what is best for the rest of us; the problem is that they do not.

The horrifying concern is that the same protagonists pushing these reforms also push defunding the Police. The CAA executive has attended meetings where these issues were raised.

That social experiment has already been tried overseas and failed miserably, which has cost those communities more to rebuild Policing; one problem is the difficulty of very few recruits availing themselves of policing as a career, having seen what happened in the defunding period.

As far as we can tell, the issue of public drunkenness has arisen from one incident where a drunken person self-harmed in a police cell after being arrested for drunkenness.

As sad as that is, that was not the fault of the Police, or the existence of the Offence of Drunk and Disorderly, as we believe no evidence would have excluded the self-harm happening at any other facility, time or place and that drunkenness itself far too often leads to self-harm for which benign arrest is often the only viable solution.

Police see their intervention with somebody drunk in a public place as a Police function, but the sobering up process is a health issue.

Given the demands for service, the idea that drunks can be conveyed home or to some safe place by Police or ambulance is ludicrous.

If changes are to be made, they must be well-considered and practical to avoid numerous unintended consequences.

We strongly support the concept of a ‘Drunk Tank with’ medical oversight. That will improve the safety of the Drunks and the community. Instead of putting drunks in a cell, police can put them in a drunk tank for their four-hour sobering up.

Leave the Legislation alone.

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER BEHAVING BADLY

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER BEHAVING BADLY

11th December 2022

As reported in the Herald Sun on the 8th of December 2022, Deputy Commissioner Neil Paterson allegedly apologised for an incident involving a Red Cross blood donation worker who was left deeply upset by an encounter with him. It is unclear to whom he apologised.

Simply put, this incident should never have occurred, and we doubt a remote apology will right the wrong. There is no indication that the Red Cross worker has accepted the apology, From the report, we would understand why she may not.

This incident occurred in a café area at Police headquarters where the Red Cross woman approached Paterson. She was there recruiting blood donors, doing her job.

Paterson berated the woman in an area where there would have been large volumes of police employees. As a Deputy Commissioner in Police Headquarters, the imbalance in the encounter was dramatic and for all to see.

Berating a worker rather than taking his concerns to Red Cross in a private capacity, and there are many avenues open to him to do that, is like confronting and berating a junior constable in the suburbs for the behaviour of VicPol during the Gobbo affair.

Mr Paterson has form in this area, having previously achieved comprehensive media coverage for his attack on a Police Sergeant nearing retirement because his religious beliefs oppose homosexuality.

The similarity in his previously exposed incident was also a substantial power imbalance between a Deputy Commissioner and a Sergeant.

Paterson is not employed to peddle his personal agenda. When he puts on his ‘Salute Blue’ suit, he becomes a servant of the Chief Commissioner and an example for other Police to emulate.

It is trite to say that Police, especially senior Police, must not allow bullying. With that, it is also obvious that they should not be bullies. The incidents, while against different people, appear to indicate bullying behaviours. CAA is not saying Paterson is a bully. This is a matter for others to determine, but CAA does say that the behaviours alleged reflect poorly on Paterson and Victoria Police

This incident has broader implications for Victoria Police and the Chief Commissioner.

He was putting the Chief Commissioner in an unenviable position where he is conflicted between supporting one of his most senior executives and his responsibility to maintain discipline and good order in Victoria Police.

Expressing support for Paterson could send a message to all Police that you can use your uniform to pursue personal values with impunity. And you can bet it would end badly if it took off.

This issue will not go away, particularly if other Police are disciplined for inappropriate comments. Their defence will be obvious.

The Chief Commissioner must formally admonish Paterson. This needs to be public, to rebuild the structural damage to VicPol Paterson has created.

Paterson’s behaviour is contrary to the neutrality expected of  Police. The CAA believes this behaviour brings ‘the Force into disrepute’ and further feeds the community’s perceptions of the lack of impartiality by the Police, magnified substantially because of his rank.

Would this behaviouir be toleated by Poilce Command for a more junior ranked police memeber.

The way the laws currently stand, only IBAC can take a complaint against any Police Commissioner, and CAA has little confidence they would do anything, making police executives seemingly beyond reproach, creating a protected species.

The Chief Commissioner is, in reality, the last bastion of the enforcement of proper standards. We invite him, as a man of integrity, to publicly rebuke Paterson for his obviously poor behaviour.

We also call on the Government to amend legislation to empower the Chief Commissioner to instigate and investigate complaints against his Senior Officers if required, even if that investigation is overseen by IBAC.

RESPECTING POLICE VETERANS & THE CHIEF

RESPECTING POLICE VETERANS & THE CHIEF

4th December 2020

Some time ago, the CAA proposed a plan that made each Police Service Area (PSA) Manager Station Commander responsible for providing recognition for any Police Veterans who passed away in their area of responsibility.

The plan was proposed to the Chief Commissioner at a CAA, AGM pre-COVID.

This was linked to a proposed register to be kept for all Veterans. A statewide register devolved to the PSAs based on addresses. The veterans then could be identified should their welfare need attention—a notation made on the register that would enable a phone call or a visit at determined intervals to check welfare and keep them connected.

This would allow the register to be maintained if veterans changed addresses, were taken ill or were placed in care. The likelihood of a Veteran dying and none of his colleagues being aware is minimised.

Additionally, the local PSA manager was to contact and visit the Veteran’s family when they passed away. Apart from condolences, to seek permission to have a Police Officer of a rank, at least one above the deceased, read the Ode at the funeral.

As a mark of respect, the POLICE FLAG (not the Australian Flag) would be made available as a Pall for the coffin.

After the service, the Flag to be handed to the family as a mark of respect in perpetuity. ‘Buried under the Flag they served.’

The Chief Commissioner agreed to these proposals.

We were comfortable that he intended to implement them.

We accepted that during the COVID era, this proposal was unlikely to be followed through completely, but we incorrectly assumed that the components possible under COVID rules were implemented.

We have been shocked by the recent outpouring of dissatisfaction by Police Veterans and serving members on Social Media regarding the treatment of Veterans who recently passed away being routinely ignored by VicPol

The Chief Commissioner’s wishes were blatantly ignored.

We have then reviewed some other matters that the CAA has sought and gained support from the Chief Commissioner and have not been implemented.

  • A proposition that all Veterans living in a PSA should be identified and recorded at a Station should their welfare need attention.
  • A formal Police school program.
  • A program where an executive Officer would formally thank all members on retirement for their service. (An initiative raised by the CCP).
  • Recognising Police who were called up for National service. (This project is advancing, and the Dedication Service for their Honour Board is scheduled for February 2023 at the Police Chapel).

These issues are distinct from the myriad of other matters we have put to the Chief in submissions.

It is of very great concern that the Chief Commissioner can express a view, and the organisation fails to respect that view and follow through on it.

We have no reason to believe that the Chief Commissioner was not genuine in his views expressed. We are, however, very concerned that others have developed a strategy within the organisation to push back or ignore his wishes. We assume that is unless they agree with them.

A prime example of the cart leading the horse.

That is no way for an organisation like a Police Force to operate, and it raises the concern of what other matters approved by the Chief Commissioner the organisation has chosen to ignore.

The Chief Commissioner is the person who takes ultimate responsibility for the performance and function of the organisation, not those who seem to wish to undermine him.

The apparent evolution of insurrection within the upper echelons of Victoria Police undermines the Chief Commissioner’s authority; it is as embarrassing as it is wholly unacceptable.

This indicates that a flawed executive ‘Committee’ approach holds sway over the Chief Commissioner. Once that happens, the influence permeates down, meaning everybody can choose to follow or not follow the Chief’s directions. Discipline folds, and the ability to function as a cohesive body evaporates. This is not good for Policing or the community.

The first evidence of a problem we identified, was when we reflected on the Police COVID Response.

The Chief was at pains to prefer the issue of cautions instead of prosecutions for COVID breaches and took the unprecedented step of intervening personally to issue warnings.

That was until the quantity overwhelmed his capacity to deal with each case, and the principle of a caution was lost. Somebody or some people at a very high level in VicPol usurped the Chief Commissioner’s authority, and the control of the police response was overtaken by others, perhaps explaining the debacle that followed.

It now seems clear that some see the CCP as just a figurehead, and the faceless few are the power of the organisation.

The CAA is of the opinion that some seem to be using their position to remove the CCP to gain power for themselves.

This thinking is as flawed as the mechanism they have established to undermine the CCP. It will still be there if they succeed and can be just as easily used against them.

Senior police must unite in support of the Chief.  And that is not just lip service, but function.

When senior officers do not display ethical leadership, this flows throughout the organisation, down to junior police.

The CAA is concerned there is a serious problem somewhere in the upper echelon.

Those responsible for undermining the Chief Commissioner should step aside or be removed from their positions; a purge would be justified and is, in our opinion, necessary.

 

 

 

G-Tag   A NEW PARADIGM IN COMMUNITY SAFETY

G-Tag A NEW PARADIGM IN COMMUNITY SAFETY

29th October 2022 First Published 9th Feb 2016

‘It was claimed by Victoria Police that the G-Tag proposal submitted in 2016 was assessed and  piloted, however, the pilot was not of this proposal but a proposal with similarities that seemed suspiciously like a cover for a feasibility assessment for a commercial venture.

The G-tag has a far wider application, and the pilot did not facilitate testing of the concept.

Police at the time did not have the capacity to grasp the concept and to their discredit never bothered to check with the authors for clarity.

The current administration of VicPol seems more adroit than past administrations, and we hope for the benefit of all Victorians that they seriously consider this proposal.’

 – The G-Tag

Save Lives                                                                                                                                                          Reduce crime                                                                                                                                                         Cost positive and                                                                                                                                           Make Victoria a leader as an innovative State.

Introduction

For many people, their car is their most important and valued asset, and to have it stolen is devastating. Unfortunately, motor cars, whether stolen or not, are also commonly associated with crimes including hit-run, robbery, drugs, rape, murder, domestic violence and now Terrorism.

The relatively new experience of motor vehicles being used as a weapon either against Police or as a weapon of mass destruction, terror-related or not, is a recent phenomenon. However, the introduction of this new level of violence In the West has brought a new urgency to the G-Tag.

The G-Tag, when fully implemented, is the only stratagem that will stop vehicles from being used as weapons.

The Bourke Street massacre should be justification alone for introducing the G-Tag. Unless you live under a rock, we know that it will only be a matter of time before we experience the devastation of truck or car bombs, as is all too common elsewhere in the world.

The multiple killings, countless injuries, millions of dollars of theft and massive damage is caused because current legislation is focused exclusively on the driver, not the vehicle. Until that changes, the vehicles available to drivers will continue to wreak havoc.

The most creative solution dreamed up thus far by Government and Police in Melbourne is strategically placed bollards and reinforced concrete planters. A little underwhelming. They will create safe areas (but only from cars). Still, the vulnerability of people will then be focused on the areas unable to be protected, including every intersection in Melbourne at peak pedestrian times when pedestrians in large numbers cross are exposed.

There were 4,567,314 vehicles (ABS Data and includes all vehicles) Registered in Victoria in 2015 – a huge and valuable state asset that needs to be protected.

The traditional view is the risks posed by the motor car should be managed by legislation focusing on the driver. Unfortunately, the success of this approach is problematic at best, with very limited success.

‘The best way to reduce any crime is to increase in the perpetrators’ mind the likelihood that they will get caught – penalties in themselves have limited impact because the perpetrator does not commit the act to get caught and never expects to get caught.

When the probability of being caught fails to dissuade, we need the ability to intervene to minimise the impact of the behaviour.

Authorities (Police) should be able to safely slow down or stop particular vehicles in the interests of public safety and/or law enforcement,’

Without diminishing the current Law and Order response, there is a need to think through and discuss alternatives – that alternative is the vehicle.

GPS Tracking

GPS tracking is widely used in the community; the devices record and re-transmit their own location to a satellite-based global positioning system. These re-transmitted signals allow the identification of the vehicle, location, and route it has and is taking. It also communicates the vehicles speed.

That route can be recorded for days or weeks, and capable of identifying which vehicle was driven in a particular location at a previous time. This ability will allow Police to identify the vehicle used in a crime. As important as the current location of the vehicle, is the historical routes the vehicle has taken, which perhaps has more investigative value.

An example, and there are many, would be a drive-by shooting in the early hours. Witnesses can usually supply the time of the shots; with a G-Tag, the Police could identify which vehicles were driven in that location at the time given.

Central to this proposal will be the fitting of tracking devices to every vehicle. Although this forms part of the first stage of this proposal, it needs to be seen through the prism of advantages to the community, a safety and Crime Prevention/Minimisation strategy, albeit that an economic case may be produced for the system raising alternative revenue streams for the Government, a user pays system for registration. The latter is the most equitable method of raising revenue.

Setting the case for part one of this proposal – the G-Tag

The advantages of developing a GPS locating system, or G-Tag, for the entire Victorian road fleet will be no small feat; however, the return will be enormous.

Theft of Motor vehicles and machinery

With a G-Tag, stolen vehicles can be located quickly; the focus is on the property, not the perpetrator, which will serendipitously lead to perpetrators being detected rapidly. This will lead to a reduction in insurance costs. This would also reduce the demand for Police time and assist in arresting perpetrators.

G-Tags will influence the perpetrators knowing the chances of getting caught have escalated and may dissuade many would-be offenders.

In Australia, 49 vehicles are stolen and processed for scrap metal a week and one in four cars stolen are never recovered – $103 Million estimated value of cars never recovered. In addition, there are estimated to be 5 million cars on Australian roads that do not have immobilising technology. (Source -National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council.).

In Victoria, 14366 vehicle thefts were reported according to VicPol statistics – in 2014. In 2015 that number increased to 17090, an increase of 19%. The National average of vehicles not recovered is 31% (This figure could be substantially higher when including vehicles recovered damaged beyond repair – burnt out etc.) so extrapolating those figures to Victoria, over 5000 vehicles disappear every year, or nearly 100 every week.

What the statistics do not show is the hardship caused and the danger posed to the community

Community safety – a G-Tag will assist

  1. Victims of Domestic violence-. They can be better protected by tagging perpetrators’ vehicles in the G-Tag system to warn Police of the perpetrator heading toward the victim. In addition, using postcodes to quarantine victims will enable Police to intervene when postcode boundaries are crossed by perpetrators breaching a Family Violence Order—alerting Police to reduce the risk to the victim.
  2. Missing Persons-. G-Tags can locate vehicles of missing persons before self-harm. Suicidal victims are generally found after their demise when the family have contacted Police over concerns, but Police driving around searching every nook and cranny has historically been demonstrated as ineffective and usually does not end in locating the individual before it is too late.

G-Tags will have the ability to save lives with the chance of getting professional help to desperate people.

Rural application-                                                                                                                                             The application in Rural and remote Victoria is very sound; consider being able to locate a tractor on a large remote property or a driver overdue to destinations, particularly in times of natural disaster. This will also reduce the number of unnecessary searches.

The applications of G-Tag technology can be extended to include watercraft and recreational vehicles.

Technology instead of human resources.                                                                                                      The thousands of man-hours expended by emergency services, particularly Police, can be dramatically reduced in multiple circumstances by the G-Tag Policing will become more efficient and effective, reducing pressure on Police resources.

Criminal activity –                                                                                                                                        Terrorism Investigations would have the advantage of monitoring vehicles with G-Tags without intrusion to better understand the risks posed by suspects.

The use of vehicles as a weapon in Terrorism is commonplace in the current war zones. It is likely to appear in Australia at some stage and being prepared will save lives.

  1. Criminal Behaviour –There is a current spate of home invasions where perpetrators physically confront victims in their homes by forced entry to gain access to keys to steal high-end motor vehicles. This type of activity (home invasion) is on the rise; there is a substantial risk of serious harm, if not the death of a victim. The ability to track these vehicles by G-Tag and immobilise them is very attractive to the victims and Police.
  2. Illicit Drugs must be transported in vehicles at some stage. Access to G-Tag technology will provide invaluable assistance in managing the importation and trafficking of drugs.
  3. Hoon drivers –can be monitored and removed from our roads. Known hoons’ vehicles can be tagged in the G-Tag system, and an alarm indicating when like tagged vehicles are identified by the system to be congregating can give Police the opportunity to intervene before the dangers escalate.
  4. Police Pursuits – This technology virtually eliminates the need for pursuits, and G-Tag disabling the car by G-Tag reduces risk to the Community, the Police and even the offender.
  5. Emergency vehicles – can easily and reliably be located and managed when civil emergencies occur. E.g. incident managers could recognise the precise locations of fire appliances during bushfire outbreaks to direct them to where they are most needed – or away from impending danger.
  6. Arial surveillance – Currently undertaken by the Police Airwing, there are limitations with availability and response times. The G-Tag will not replace the need for Arial Surveillance as a Policing tool. Still, the G-Tag will significantly enhance the effectiveness of the Air Wing, reducing operating costs.
  7. Legal implications – The data recorded in the G-Tag system has evidentiary value, as do E-Tags and Security Cameras. The potential for the improved data available from G-Tags will provide data of strong evidentiary value for Prosecution and Defence in equal benefit, further improving our judicial system.
  8. Revenue streams

The advantage of this system is it would allow the Government to use this mechanism to charge registrations on a user-pay basis, the most equitable mechanism. In addition, implementing part two of this proposal would eliminate the need for enforcement of recalcitrant individuals by placing the vehicle in ‘limp home’ mode until the financial liabilities are met. This capacity could also be extended to other civil liabilities related to traffic.

Setting the case for Part 2 of this proposal using G-Tag.

The first part of this proposal using converted E-Tag’s will only reach a percentage of the Victorian fleet unless a case can be presented for voluntary take-up of G-Tags based on the E-Tag system, although not totally limiting will reduce the overall potential of the program. However, the advantage of converting E-Tags to G-Tags will ensure a rapid introduction to the program.

Part 2 introduces more sophisticated G-Tags (technology is currently available) that are hard-wired into the vehicle’s electronics and fitted where they cannot be easily removed or interfered with. This technology adds a new layer where the vehicle’s electronics can be activated remotely to put the vehicle into limp home mode (reducing its top speed to 80KPH) before activating the engine immobiliser to halt the vehicle. The only limitations will be that certain vehicles do not have the limp home mode and would be stopped at a safe place or shut down when stationary.

The upgraded G-Tags would need to be fitted to all new vehicles, pre-delivery (amending Vehicle Standards)and second-hand vehicles as part of the roadworthy process. In addition, a moratorium would be required to set a reasonable time that all vehicles must comply, similar to other safety initiatives, including seat belt introduction.

Stage 2 will allow Police to intervene to stop the commission or continuance of a crime, which is the primary role of the Police.

The issue of re-establishing the vehicle’s functionality when recovered, or is no longer a threat, is again a technical issue that should not prove insurmountable. If it can be switched off, it can be switched back on; it is just a matter of protocols.

The cost debate

There is a cost, but as this is an innovation, the technology development costs of G-Tag would be well offset by marketing the initiative interstate and overseas. In addition, a fee for service arrangement, assisting set up and a fee for intellectual property would generate substantial income.

Part of the development costs could be covered by the Insurance Industry and TAC, who both stand to gain considerably. In addition, there would be nominal cost recovery from the users in installing a device into the existing fleet – manufacturers would be required to fit the device pre-delivery on all new vehicles.

An offset to the toll operator’s contribution (modifying E-Tags)will be the income generated when tracking devices are fitted to the Victorian fleet to include the E-Tag function in the G-Tag, effectively the E-Tag would be redundant.

With savings achieved to the State economy, the overall cost will be well offset. In addition, recurring fees would be partly recovered by beneficiaries, namely Insurance companies, Toll operators, TAC and the user.

Car owners will have to bear some costs, subsidised for Welfare recipients, but the price should not be prohibitive, somewhere under $200.

The proposal to introduce a pay-as-you-use system for registration, third-party and comprehensive Insurance and fuel excise currently avoided by the increased uptake of Electric Vehicles will contribute to the setup and recurring cost of the system.

The system could, therefore, potentially protect innocent victims from financial hardship due to vehicle damage – Potentially, the initiative could be cost-positive.

Technology

Anybody who owns a smartphone or has a Satellite navigation device is acutely aware of the power and application of technology.

Currently advertised on the internet for $35 is a tracking device that can be attached to a vehicle and linked to a smartphone. The technology exists and is small and relatively cheap.

With the increasing sophistication of motor vehicles and their reliance on computers to manage their engines, an opportunity exists to intervene in a vehicle’s performance. A large part (and increasing) of the Victorian fleet are vehicles that have an inbuilt “Limp Home Mode” in their computer systems designed to protect the engine from further damage should a fault be detected

It is a matter of connecting the dots.

  • If we can identify a vehicle using GPS locating technology by a G-Tag, we only need to develop a mechanism to access the vehicle’s computer via the G-Tag to activate the “Limp Home Mode” or the vehicle” Immobilisation technology”. A SIM card is the solution.
  • By designing and fitting an aftermarket, G-Tag to attach to the vehicle’s electronics, the vehicle’s function can be remotely managed.
  • The power supply for the G-Tag is then secured for the vehicle’s life.
  • The simplest method to communicate with vehicle electronics is by a SIM card in the device using the mobile network to communicate with the car’s computer.

 The Issue of Privacy

In the 1980s, a very vocal minority saw themselves as the keepers of our privacy, objecting to installing the eight CCTV cameras for a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Melbourne. They vocalised on the prying eyes and the abuse that would occur should the cameras not be removed immediately after the conference was finished- “It’s a Police State” was the group’s mantra.

Their plaintive cries are now somewhat humorous when we look around at the number of cameras that watch us daily, but there is no community concern as it has been demonstrated that they serve the greater good, and law-abiding citizens do not care if they are watched. Indeed, governments actively encourage more expansive use of CCTV in public places, and the take-up of private CCTV systems – including those monitoring public spaces – is impressive.

This initiative has a distinct advantage over CCTV cameras. The Cameras have a deterrent effect and assist with identifying perpetrators, but they cannot stop or prevent the continuation of a crime – the G-Tag can.

Anybody worried about the movement of their vehicle being monitored should realise there are over 5 million vehicles in Victoria, so nobody would have the time, the resources or the interest to monitor every vehicle – it will be enough just monitoring vehicles that are of particular interest- law-abiding citizens just hide in the crowd.

Furthermore, although not common knowledge, most high-end vehicles sold in recent years already have this technology and are used as part of the aftermarket service provided by the manufacturers as a mechanism to update electronics and identify the need for roadside assistance.

Effectively a reasonable percentage of the population drive around oblivious that their movements are being or are capable of being monitored by a third part.

Impact on Judicial processes.

Implementing this system will provide the Judiciary with an alternative to sentencing offenders (by regulating vehicle use), particularly for the less serious traffic infringements and criminal activity in some cases.
Currently, lives are ruined financially and otherwise by fines and driving restrictions that cause offenders to lose employment and the capacity to pay fines.

Unintended double jeopardy can ruin many young people’s lives. Correcting bad behaviour by bad outcomes lessens, and in certain circumstances destroys the chance of future compliance. Instead, in desperation, it can lead, particularly young people, towards crime and drugs to escape what they see as a hopeless situation from which they see no escape.

The G-Tag system can be used to manage the use of a vehicle to certain roads and/or times to allow Offenders to continue in employment, enabling them to pay the fines but still having their mobility curtailed to serve as a punishment.

We are not suggesting this facility become run-of-the-mill but for cases where a driver may exceed .05 after a reading shows residual alcohol or drugs in the low range. Or where breaches of Licence offences and registration matters can be managed without ruining lives.

The increase in penalty recovery would justify offenders retaining employment and avoid forcing people onto welfare and damaging the States productivity.

Recovery of Civil compliance fines could also be improved. For example, a vehicle disabled by G-Tag would rapidly encourage compliance.

System Security

There will need to be legislation that includes safeguards for privacy and safeguards against tampering with the system, either the physical equipment or any signal emitted.

Conclusion

The G-Tag is a proactive and novel proposal, but there is a myriad of far more radical ideas that once seemed farfetched that are now accepted as the mainstream norm, world wide web, television and the telephone!

We now accept security cameras as a way of life and the dreaded speed cameras as an acceptable inconvenience that serves the greater good.

It will take leadership and innovative thought to implement this proposal; however, the advantages to the community make it a worthwhile project.

This is an innovation that will save lives commensurate with its implementation,

  • Minimise Police pursuits by number and duration.
  • Enable the arrest of mobile criminals safely.
  • Monitor criminal activity.
  • Determine the identity of perpetrators when the crime was not witnessed, but a vehicle was involved (historical footage of the scene)
  • Tag domestic violence perpetrators and protect victims with an electronic shield.
  • Reducing a criminal’s ability to use a vehicle in committing a crime.
  • Reducing criminals’ ability to burn stolen vehicles to hide DNA.
  • Locate missing people intent on self-harm.
  • Increase revenue through greater enforcement of civil compliance.
  • Locate and save people in natural disasters.
  • Reduce police resources in trying to locate missing persons.

“I have worked hard to own my car, and if it gets stolen, I would be very happy that it could be located and disabled as soon as it is reported (minimising damage to it). It would be a bonus that the low life that did it was caught.”

A view that the overwhelming majority of Victorians would share.

An additional attraction of this technology is that it will allow a user-pays system to be developed in lieu of registration and other taxes as a reliable and equitable mechanism to tax road users.

Recommendation

That VicPol and Government establish a working party to prepare the business case for this proposal, including the fiscal imperatives that will make this proposal not only practical but cost positive. An approach ANZPAA and Standards Australia should be considered as well as drafting legislation to establish a G-Tag Authority to develop the technology and design the model for the ongoing management and operation of the system.

Ivan W. Ray

Chief Executive Officer

Community Advocacy Alliance Inc