Thursday, November 01, 2012

Foot-dragging over thug West Australian cops

The instinct to protect cops clashes with the evidence so the result is indecision and buck-passing all round

WA Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan gave evidence at a parliamentary hearing on how the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) handled allegations of police misconduct. Pic WILKINS DANIEL Source: PerthNow

WEST Australian Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan is concerned that the futures of the police officers involved in the infamous Kevin Spratt tasering incident are still unclear four years after it happened.

Mr Spratt was tasered in August 2008 by senior constables Troy Tomlin and Aaron Strahan after he refused a strip search.

CCTV footage of the tasering caused public outrage and demands that the officers involved be charged, but no charges have been laid.

Mr O'Callaghan and Assistant Commissioner of Professional Standards Dominic Staltari gave evidence on Wednesday at a parliamentary hearing on how the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) handled allegations of police misconduct such as the Spratt incident.

Mr Staltari said a draft CCC report had labelled the police investigation into the Spratt matter as "thorough and balanced'' but such remarks were taken out of the final report.

He said the CCC took 18 months to finalise its report into the matter.

Police had originally referred the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on October 11, 2010, but a month later the CCC decided to do its own investigation.

The matter has now been referred back to police via the DPP, and Mr Staltari said police would decide soon what to do next.

Mr O'Callaghan showed frustration at how long the probe had taken.

"We're not one step in front of where we were,'' he said.

Mr Staltari said the CCC was able to lay charges against police officers but had instead "handballed'' the matter back to the DPP for "serious consideration''.

Mr O'Callaghan said that was ``bizarre'' because the CCC had reached the same conclusion that the police originally had.

He said any complaints against an officer went first to police and the CCC was also informed.

"If you make a complaint to me, the CCC will know about it,'' Mr O'Callaghan said.

Mr Staltari said if the CCC made a finding of misconduct, the commissioner could not do anything with its report - he would have to order a separate police investigation.

He said he had previously suggested a "liaison meeting'' with the CCC but was told it would not look good for the CCC to appear to be "in bed'' with police and it needed to be independent.

However, 18 months later the CCC had made the same suggestion to him, which he welcomed.

The hearing heard that low-level complaints about police were usually investigated within 30 days while matters that required a more fully assessable investigation could take up to 60 days.

Mr O'Callaghan said the most serious cases should not take more than six months to investigate.

Mr Staltari said he would be concerned if any matter at internal affairs took more than three months and it would prompt him to intercede.

Original report here. (Via Australian police news)

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