Thursday, October 18, 2012

Still dragging their feet

When the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct reported back in 2007, one of the key recommendations was for the Auditor-General to monitor the police for the next ten years on their implementation of the Inquiry's recommendations. The Auditor-General has just published their third monitoring report on the issue, and the conclusion seems to be that the police are still dragging their feet:

Overall, since our second monitoring report in 2010, there has been:
  • mixed progress with activities relating to complaints against the Police;
  • mixed but relatively poor progress to improve services for adult sexual assault complainants;
  • elements of good progress for organisational change; and
  • some progress to improve police behaviour.
What progress there has been has been painfully slow. Police still fail to deal with complaints form the public properly, and still feel that they cannot complain about their fellow officers without fear of repercussions. So the toxic internal culture which allowed Rickards and others to get away with it survives. They're also making far less progress than expected in their handling of complaints of sexual assault. And despite efforts to change it, their internal culture still tolerates sexual harassment and "sexually inappropriate behaviour". The positive signs are mostly unrelated. For example,
a staff member reporting that increased use of cell phones and the fear of being photographed by cell phone users has seen "fewer tickle ups [use of unnecessary physical force] at the end of the chase"
And then there's this:
Most of what we heard from staff about early intervention conveyed distrust of the approach. The strongest indication of this was concern that its existence could be motivating some risk-averse behaviours, such as officers avoiding use of physical tactics to avoid having too many such actions registered against their name because this would trigger an early intervention.

In both cases, a feeling by police that their actions are under scrutiny has led to a decrease in the use of violence against the public. And as a member of the public, I welcome that. Now, if only we can get them to recognise that sort of logic when it comes to the actions of their fellow police officers...