9th September 2022

The Watts Report does not instil confidence that all the options of criminality were adequately explored by the integrity units.

Since drafting this missive, a Whistle-blower’s bombshell allegations levelled at Police Command has come to light.

If these allegations, as reported in the media, are true, and we are not suggesting they are or not, the allegations are at least new.Albeit that interference in this and other matters like Slug-gate has long been suspected, these allegations further erode the community trust in the Victoria Police command, adding to the already severe trust deficit that exists post-COVID.

These revelations have cast a dark pall over the entire Command of Victoria Police.

The allegations must be addressed as a matter of extreme urgency if for no other reason than to allow Police members to have confidence in their Command. Otherwise, the capacity of the Victoria Police to perform its vital function will be compromised if a lack of confidence in the leadership is allowed to ferment further.

This lack of confidence is growing in the community. Still, more importantly, the Police members we rely on to protect us will be impacted, potentially adversely affecting performance in the field.

How these allegations are handled will be an actual test of the efficacy of police command. Police are generally very sceptical in these matters, so a misstep in handling this matter could lead to more significant harm. Nothing short of a thorough, competent and independent investigation to determine the veracity of these allegations and identify any perpetrators would be acceptable to the community—a view shared by most serving and former Police.

Contrary to what some would have you believe, the vast majority of police at all levels abhor corruption, so we avoid the term ‘a corrupt Police Force’ as it is overwhelmingly not.

But the question remains, is there corruption within the Police Force, as this Whistle-blower has alleged?

The problem with these allegations is they strike at the very individuals who Police and the community rely on to keep corruption within the Police Force in check. These new allegations indicate the commission of other grave crimes. Perverting the Course of Justice and other conspiracies designed to achieve that perversion is committed by, as yet, unidentified individuals, hence the need for an investigation.

It only takes one or two rotten apples in the police command for all to be tarred with the same brush. Equally the command is also seriously conflicted therefore unable to properly investigate their own, or make management decisions in relation to this issue.

Given their predisposed public views on the Red Shirts, Branch stacking and Slug-gate affairs, we question and strongly argue that IBAC is not the appropriate agency or authority to investigate these claims. They are already, like police command, significantly and unavoidably conflicted, so any further investigation by them would not prove meritorious.

Although we are not privy to the detail, from the information we can glean in the public domain, the investigative capacity of IBAC is subpar even with its extraordinary powers. A view reinforced by their inability to charge (as distinct from gaining a conviction) even one person in the Red Shirts, Branch Stacking and Slug-gate affairs, aggravated by unambiguous admissions by some perpetrators and overwhelming evidence against others.

Millions of dollars, and they have yet to land one glove. So that must be rated as a failure of epic proportions.

There are many examples where many allegations, in Police parlance, are ‘a lay down misère’ or a ‘Slam dunk’ for charges to be laid with a strong possibility of a conviction. We are yet to be graced with any plausible arguments as to why this has not occurred.

However, should merit be found in these latest allegations, it supports our contention that the whole Red Shirts rort and ICooks (Slug-gate) investigations were nobbled. Indeed, if they had been thoroughly investigated in the first instance, then issues like this would have been exposed, and we would not be sifting through the entrails of these and other breaches and abuses of public trust.

While the offence of Misconduct in Public Office has been erroneously, in our view, explained away by claiming that the Premier was only immersed in the artifice, no such explanation is provided for the other perpetrators or why many of the participants have not been interviewed and charged with Conspiracy.

A raft of possible offences of fraudulent behaviour ignites a conspiracy. The Watts report details forgery, deceptions, and Misconduct in Public Office. With these latest allegations, it would seem that Perverting the course of Justice and additional Conspiracy offences can be added to the now very long list.

As for those involved, it could potentially be in the order of fifty or more perpetrators. Spanning politicians, political staffers, political party members, public servants and police, predominately in the higher ranks.

A conspiracy of extraordinary proportions requires extraordinary effort to bring perpetrators to Justice and lift the cloud of suspicion from those in the various sectors who were not involved or facilitators of these criminal endeavours.

The honest brokers deserve better.

It could be reasonably argued that this whole artifice is organised; therefore, the Office of the Chief Examiner, if given power, may be the next avenue for consideration to establish the truth.

Additional to criminality, the people of Victoria are entitled to the truth.

There is enough evidence in the Watts Report for the perpetrators to be interviewed under caution and charged with several offences, including Conspiracy. If that is not done, it would clearly indicate the veracity of the Whistleblower’s allegations. There has been a lot said about the foot soldiers in this artifice, and it is reasonable to conclude they were under pressure to comply, but as many have said, they knew it was wrong, but they participated anyway.

They all had the option to walk away; it is not as though work is hard to find.

We seriously question the role of the Integrity units to make judgement calls relevant to the culpability of participants as they did for the Premier. That call is not theirs to make but the Director of Public Prosecutions. So exercising power, they do not have is a ‘power relevance issue’ afflicting the integrity units.

The actions and degrees of culpability that a perpetrator may have exercised are a matter for the Courts. However, if the Courts think their role is minor or incidental, the Courts have the power to exercise discretion in sentencing, a power the Integrity entities do not and should not have.

There is no doubt while the Integrity entities fail to lay charges against perpetrators of corrupt practices, those practices will continue to flourish.

The Legislators must also move to harness the powers that the Integrity units are bestowing upon themselves. This inappropriate exercising of power is a very dangerous practice and could lead to serious misdeeds, let alone being legally questionable.

The only option for an acceptable solution, apart from the Public Examiner, although remote, is that Victoria Police develop a conscience and undertake a no holds barred investigation honouring their oath.

That would go a long way to rebuilding confidence in our Force.

The most apparent takeout from these ongoing sagas, which would be well behind us if they had been dealt with properly in the first instance, will be the inevitable need for a Royal Commission, which will drag this all out for years to come. Politically, these sagas will be an albatross for one side of politics for years to come. That is not healthy for our government, irrespective of their political persuasion. As these matters drag on, we wonder what the next revelation may be.

Even the most intransigent amongst us must now accept that these matters cannot be willed away or swept under the carpet. The Political class must surely realise that by now, and deal with it properly, no matter how painful that may be.