4th of August 2020
“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 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”; well IBAC should have acted when such practices were drawn to its attention in 2012 and 2013.
Despite having been then warned of this, its inactivity has apparently contributed to the very situation it now deplores – “a culture of acceptance of … improper practices within the force”.
At CAA we have expressed hope and confidence in the ability and willingness of the new Chief Commissioner of Police, Mr. Patton, to overcome that toxic and dysfunctional culture. Time will tell if those sentiments are misplaced. But Mr. Redlich should look to the history and culture of his own organisation when criticising those of others.