Monday, September 29, 2008

Australia's amazing criminal police

THERE are 133 officers with criminal convictions serving in the New South Wales police ranks - guilty of bashings, fraud, illegal use of guns and numerous high-level drink-driving offences - the state's police force admits. Among them are five officers - three senior constables and two detective sergeants - who kept their jobs despite more than one court conviction.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal the officers have 166 offences between them following the release of documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

And efforts by Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione to clean out bad apples from the ranks have been frustrated by rulings in the Industrial Relations Commission, which saw five sacked officers reinstated in the past year.

Serious traffic-related matters dominate the list, which does not name individuals, including 25 high-range and 47 mid-range drink-drive crimes, two cases of drink-driving occasioning grievous bodily harm and eight of negligent or culpable driving. There are 10 assaults, including several occasioning actual bodily harm, three officers convicted of fraud or making false instrument and three of offensive conduct. Two officers were convicted of unauthorised access to the police COPS computer system.

A police spokesman emphasised that none of the 133 officers had served jail terms and they made up less than 1 per cent of the force's 15,236 officers. "The NSW Police Force is no different from every major employer in having staff who have been before the courts," he said.

But the high number of offences raised concerns among legal experts last night that Crown cases before the courts could be placed at risk should any of these officers be involved. Barrister Stephen Odgers, while not wanting to comment on specifics, said that a police officer called as a witness could be cross-examined and challenged over their "credibility" should their criminal history be known.

The list of convictions, which police claimed at first did not exist, was released after an appeal to the Ombudsman. Opposition police spokesman Michael Gallacher said last night that the force had secretly lowered its standards under government pressure to meet election promises on officer numbers - a claim denied by police.

Original report here. (Via Australian Politics)

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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