Thursday, June 27, 2019

The IPCA ignores torture

Another day, another IPCA report finding police misbehaviour, this time in relation to police beating a suspect in Huntly in 2017. But despite a finding that officers used excessive force, the police as usual refused to prosecute their own. But delving into the report, it gets worse, because there's allegations of torture and findings of quite disturbing comments made by officers.

One of the questions considered by the IPCA was whether an officer used "pain compliance" - that is, torture - on a suspect at Huntly police station:

At Huntly Police Station the arrested people were taken into the custody unit. Officer D told the Authority he saw an officer squeeze handcuffs into the wrists of one of the arrested people “deliberately hard enough so the offender yelled out in pain telling him to “’Stop, Stop’ and he was almost in tears…” Officer D said the officer told the arrested person to “shut up”.


Officer D said that, while he was interviewing Mr Z for an unrelated offence, Mr Z disclosed that he had received wrist injuries during the incident on 18 November 2017. Mr Z said he had bruises on his wrists for weeks after the incident, was unable to move them and they were sore. However, he did not wish to make a complaint to Police as he felt they would not listen to him.

The IPCA made no finding on this, partly because police officers denied it, and partly because "Mr Z’s custody evaluation did not detail any injuries". That's a common thread in this: they also refuse to make findings on some of the beating because no injuries are recorded in the custody report. However, they also explicitly find police failing to make legally required reports on use of force where it was illegal. The obvious question here is that if police are failing to report using force, isn't it possible that they're also failing to report the injuries it inflicts? But I guess its so much easier to trust the paperwork than actually worry about whether we have a problem with systematic lying.

There's there's the attitude of a certain police officer:
Later the same night, Officer D spoke to Officer E about the incident. In his complaint to Police, Officer D said:

“[Officer E] informed me that he had ‘dealt to them’. He continued to tell me that it’s about time some of these kids got what they deserved. He then suggested that he believed he had deliberately torn [Mr W’s] rotator calf [sic] muscle and that it should put him out of action for six months. He continued to state that he knew based on his physiotherapy experience how to hurt him in ways not to leave any marks.”

This is basicly a police officer admitting to torture. The IPCA found that these comments were made. However, they made no finding on the injuries themselves (again, because they were not in custody records, which were made by this officer and his colleagues). They also don't seem to have suggested that an officer saying that he knows how to torture suspects and get away with it is any cause for concern, or something police should sack them for. Because let's be clear: torture has no place in our police force. And any police officer who thinks otherwise, or thinks that they are entitled to inflict pain on suspects for their gratification or as revenge or to "keep them off the streets", has no place in our police. Instead, they belong in jail, with the rest of the criminals.