Monday, March 23, 2009

Missing - inaction

Have I expressed how deeply unimpressed I have become with the performance of the NSW Police over the last few years?

I can give you a number of anecdotal examples of lack of commitment on the part of individual officers I have had involvement with, and witnessed, from the Police Sergeant who thought himself too important to leave his desk to witness some documents I was required by law to have certified by a Police Sergeant, to police vehicles obviously ignoring other vehicles flagrantly breaking the road rules. I'm so used to the last one, I've found myself more and more ignoring road rules when I find them inconvenient, and I don't think I'm alone.

Bikie killed in Sydney Airport brawl

It's bad enough that this occurred, but the implications are quite staggering. The brawl apparently went on for 15 minutes - no NSW Police even witnessed the event, they had to be alerted by a 000 call. According to the Premier, the initial call to 000 came in at 13:43, and the call to the airport police commander went out at 13:46 and police responded at 13:47. This is calculated to be a response time of less than one minute (my high school maths says it is between 3 and 4 minutes, but whatever.) It was presentedtestified in court that the fight actually started at 13:35 - in other words, a number of huge, possibly armed men brawled unimpeded through the airport, and not a single NSW Police officer noticed. NSW Police were totally unaware until 8 minutes later, when a member of the public placed a 000 call.

Try taking an overly large bottle of shampoo, or a set of nail clippers on your next flight and see how far you get. A brawl involving up to 20 people and ending with 1 person bludgeoned to death, walk right in. It's quite clear the the low grade harassment, inconvenience and expensive equipment is merely to provide a veneer of security, the illusion of safety. Walk into Heathrow, for example, and you will be able to see police officers walking around armed with sub machine guns, and this is in a country which generally doesn't see the need to arm it's constabulary with firearms at all. The authorities there clearly see the need for a different response at its primary airport. Walk into Sydney airport and the most you will see will be a private security guard armed with a walkie talkie. You will find a more effective policing model at your nearest Westfield shopping centre.

The response so far has been to propose introducing new laws, giving greater powers of covert search to the Police and allowing them to arbitrarily declare a club or organisation as being illegal, and the members commit a crime simply by attending a meeting.

Neither of these things strike me as being an effective response. I also think that both of these powers will likely be abused in the future, reducing what fragile liberties we already have.

And if you think the NSW Police are squeaky clean and would never abuse their powers, you haven't been watching channel 9 on Monday nights.

Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities


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