19th July 2022

“An Improper Investigation” and “Police misconduct a dark cloud over conviction” were two headlines in Herald Sun 1/8/2020 – and both were misleading.  The real story lay in the small print:- “There appeared to be a culture of acceptance of the improper practices within the force.”

Therein lay the real evil bedevilling the Force:-

  • acceptance of improper practices, even after they had been complained about;
  • refusal to obey the dictates of the law and common leadership principles that complaints MUST be investigated; and
  • repeated concealment of wrongdoing which, by default, encourages corrupt and/or criminal conduct.

So there ensued the cover-up of the “reprehensible conduct” related to Informer 3838, despite the laudable efforts of Sir Ken Jones to challenge and expose the “toxic and dysfunctional culture” within the Victoria Police Force.

IBAC found “even shredding of some statements were among the serious issues identified” – and yet IBAC had long refused to bother itself about other police who concealed a document that completely refuted their case against a defendant:-

During questioning of the defendant a detective handed him a computer printout showing that his computer user account had been enabled and successfully logged on before 9 am on a Monday morning, before the defendant had commenced work.. But then charged the defendant with the crime of illicitly enabling his own user account later that morning.  The point that somebody else had done so – that the account was actually enabled before 9 am – was set aside in the officer’s quest for a scalp.

The police officer swore to having handed to the defendant all the documents shown to him at interview, but certainly did not hand over that critically exculpatory printout; it disappeared.  Was it “shredded”?  What possible legitimate motive could have existed for the police, not merely failing to disclose this document, but ignoring it and pretending it did not exist?

Mr. Redlich (IBAC Commissioner) “raised concerns (that) improper practices continue today” (in 2020);  well IBAC should have acted when such practices were drawn to its attention in 2012 and 2013.

Despite having been then (2012-13) warned of this, its inactivity has apparently contributed to the very situation it deplored in 2020 – “a culture of acceptance of … improper practices within the force”;  i.e. the situation which has reemerged in 2022.

At CAA we had expressed hope and confidence in the ability and willingness of the Chief Commissioner of Police, Mr. Patton, to overcome that toxic and dysfunctional culture.  The latest events, however, suggest those sentiments were misplaced.

So Mr. Redlich now should look to the history of his own organisation.  If he does he should recognise how its failure to investigate serious allegations of police corruption when they were brought to its attention – and dismissed summarily one the shadiest of irrelevant grounds – has undoubtedly contributed to the present state of affairs.

Something must be done by outsiders to forever break the habit of police apparently breaching their oath of office and the law, repeatedly oversighting “profound failure(s) of policing”, to quote Mr. Patton himself.