18th July 2022
In a democracy, the community rightly sees the Government as ultimately responsible for Law and Order; critical to that responsibility is the performance of the Police Force.
In this current election environment, you can bet that all political machines are watching the performance of VicPol. No doubt looking for any opportunity to maximise on or reduce exposure to, the impact of the community angst that has developed towards its Force.
The Tectonic plates of policing have been moving adversely within the Victoria Police Force for some time. However, it has become very obvious they have gathered momentum and are now moving rapidly towards an adverse outcome.
The elements necessary for a policing Tsunami are becoming evident as the litany of policing failures has built to where the Tsunami is not a possibility but an inevitability.
There seems to be no end to the flow of ineptitude and policing failures; we all just sit and wait for the inevitable next one.
Government and all politicians will be closely watching how VicPol responds to the latest failures in the investigation of the Silk-Miller Police murders and the impact that may have on their electoral fortunes.
The community will also be watching as their confidence in the police continues to wane.
Taken in isolation, many issues, would have of themselves have limited impact on public confidence, but the build-up of events is taking its toll, and the informed public will inevitably start demanding change.
Seeds of that miscontent are starting to germinate.
These matters all contribute to the current malaise,
- Gobbo affair – a wanton disregard of the legal process and riddled with alleged corrupt practices.
- Red Shirts – from media reports, apparent criminality not prosecuted. They are corrupting the Police Judiciary separation of powers. Abuse of the discretion of police common law powers. The discretion is not a prerogative of the Force but is vested in individual constables.
- Slug-Gate – has the hallmarks of deliberate avoidance of the responsibility of the police force – poor investigation hamstrung by interference and twisted loyalties of subordinates to achieve an outcome palatable to the police command and to protect public figures.
- Politicians Travel rorts – just because somebody is a politician does not give them a free pass by police to commit criminal acts, but apparently, in Victoria, it does.
- Bourke Street massacre – one of the most inept police operations in modern policing history where police command failed to take charge, and six Victorians lost their lives as a result. Unfortunately, this command failure has been whitewashed.
- Executive misconduct – there have been examples of executive misconduct that arguably were criminal in nature, however, the executives were not charged, and their guilt or innocence determined by a Court, they resigned. This is completely inconsistent with how non-executive police are treated, even for minor infractions.
- Hotel Quarantine security guard’s debacle– how Victoria Police could equivocate and avoid the responsibility of securing the Quarantine of Hotels in the initial emergency and most critical stages of the COVID outbreak. Arguably contributing to eight hundred deaths is beyond contemptible, but that has also conveniently received the whitewash treatment.
- Corruption failures– Corruption is rampant in many sectors, and there is no evidence that the criminality involved is being addressed by VicPol, presumably leaving it to ‘him over there.’ You can blame who you like, but nothing will change until VicPol gets serious and starts instigating criminal proceedings against blatant criminal corruption.
- COVID Demonstrations–
- Shooting demonstrators How any justification can be spun up to justify the use of shotguns firing bean bag rounds into demonstrators is beyond us; this behaviour borders on a criminal act.
- O/C Spay Likewise, justification for dousing demonstrators with O/C Spray when they were running away seems indefensible- they were running away, for gods sake!
- Handcuffing a young mum in front of her children in Ballarat because of online posts will always be up there as a disgraceful act. Rationalising that the female was in the kitchen, a place where she had access to weapons, is just ludicrous without any overt act or previous form that would create any risk.
- Chasing demonstrators seems an odd police tactic – fine if you are going to arrest a perpetrator, but if demonstrators are running away, what is the point or logic in chasing them? What was to happen if they were caught?
- Corralling demonstrators- another strange counterintuitive tactic of herding demonstrators into a confined area and then tightening the police- line when the object of reducing the spread of COVID is, as we know, the distance between people.
- Snatching a phone of an elderly woman had no justification and was a breach of discipline by the police member. Still, we do not know if that member was held to account – it would have been interesting to know where he thought he might have gotten his justification.
- Service delivery- the area of most significant concern for Victorians and the lack thereof, has impacted a very large percentage of them. They are rightly aggrieved; Police Stations closed, police unwilling or unable to respond (Call ramping) and aggravated by police who are despondent or disinterested if they do respond, all signs of a damaged workforce.
No good blaming the rank and file but lift your eyes to see where the problem lies.
- Police welfare – impacting substantially on the item above the departure of competent police due to stress or related illnesses in very large part created by poor management and the workload being disproportionally spread in the workforce. The exodus is twofold, one string heading out of policing due to mental health and the other exodus internal into non-frontline tasks.
- Pillaging Police Stations – for human resources to appease media attention. Because an incident or series of incidents are given media exposure, the nett effect of making the best out of Police Stations to address these issues is counterintuitive. Fewer Police at police stations equates to more problems gaining media attention. A performance spiral.
- Endemic evidence tampering – This behaviour it would seem has become an entrenched operating procedure for investigators in certain areas of Policing. That it appears book ended by events in 1998 and 2022 it is clearly endemic and wide-spread. There are a number of Senior Police Officers who have been promoted over those two decades who would have to be aware, if not involved in these unlawful acts and yet they have done nothing to stem the behaviour.
- The Silk Miller Murder trial was corrupted by the unlawful action of police investigators in tampering with evidence, Perverting the Course of Justice.
- While the Silk Miller murders occurred in the late 90’s, the culmination (the bit that counts) of the investigation was in the early 2000s. It is alleged up to five statements were rewritten, and originals disposed of. Serious criminality by Police with multiple evidence tampering and conspiracy offences not pursued.
- Not confined to the 2000s coercing or causing statements to be altered is still happening at a 2022 trial where, fortunately, the police member who was coerced into altering his statement a mind-numbing seven (7) times by senior police self-reported the act to the Court. The jury acquitted the accused, or otherwise, a rerun of the Jason Roberts saga would be with us.
That nobody has been held to account for Perverting the Course of Justice and the associated conspiracies is a disgrace. This was a high-profile case so the executive would have been fully aware. Their failure in supervision/management is breathtaking and staggering.
- Lack of police transparency- VicPol is always encouraging the community to give it information but try the reverse and get information from Police. It is not uncommon for the estimated time for a Freedom of Information request to be in the order of six months. If you try to challenge this at VCAT, VicPol will do legal somersaults to avoid compliance. We are aware of Supreme Court requests being treated in the same way – Hubris.
Perhaps we all should encourage everybody to take an example from VicPol and provide them with their information in six months?
The common thread of all these issues is a failure of Command and Control where the police executive fail in their duty – the first and most significant example which Victorians have never forgotten was the performance of Chief Commissioner Nixon while Victorians died in the Black Saturday fires –we allege that is the starting point of the collapse of Command and Control and executive responsibility within VicPol. Yet, Nixon was not sanctioned for a gross breach of executive responsibility, and no executive has faced criminal charges, irrespective of what they were alleged to have done since. They are not held to account or required to justify or apologise for Victoria Police missteps; this is unadulterated unhealthy- Hubris.
There has also been a string of thoroughly decent and competent Police who have been shown the metaphoric door for non-compliance with a new order which avoids responsibility and accountability. Many are disciplined for trivia.
Any normal grown-up organisation would be embarrassed to take drastic disproportionate steps for minor infractions, highlighting as it does management deficiencies and incompetence, but this is VicPol, that suffers an acute form of- Hubris.
These are the critical issues that the public demands their police force urgently addresses.
Alternatively, an inquiry to provide strategies to correct the current demise is not only warranted but inevitable.