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Author & Researcher Delphine Jamet
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Arrests, anger at island camp

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on January 28, 2014 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

The Noongar population of Perth have been protesting against the Government’s $1 billion offer to settle native title claims. “Freedom of assembly and expression on matters of concern to citizens is necessary for the existence of an open, participatory democracy” (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2006: 103). The issue of protesting is legitimate but this is exacerbated by what the police may regard as anti-social behaviour such as disobeying orders not to camp or light fires, therefore perhaps labelling this demonstration as a form of civil disobedience requiring confrontational police tactics (Smith, 2012).  It is interesting to think that despite this change of terminology, “law enforcement officials are protectors and enforcers of human rights” (p.13).

 

Protest enables minority groups and issues to present themselves to the public for recognition and perhaps assistance in finding a solution to the problem. It appears that the Government was unwilling to listen to the concerns of the Noongar community, despite their active protesting under the umbrella of the Noongar Tent Embassy and perhaps this is a sign of embedded institutional racism in addition to the treatment by police and the City of Perth council to evict them from the location. The Noongars had been previously warned  a number of times that their camping and behaviour was not allowed and they would be evicted if they continued.  Despite enforced evictions, the Noongar community persisted with their return.

 

It is likely that there would have been similar treatment if a portion of the mainstream society had acted like this in respect to camping, lighting camp fires and other similar behaviours but it is unlikely they would have protested in this manner when they have more resources and opportunities to utilise, like communicating directly with influential members of government. The action of the police could compare to that of Smith’s P.L.A.N. acronym: proportionality, legality, accountability and necessity (2012). It is important to remember that the police represent the government and act on orders that they may not necessary agree with but their job description dictates that they are required to obey all orders.

 

Shortly after this eviction from Heirissen Island leading to the arrest of four people, despite a minority continuing their protest, the media lost interest in the issue and the public forgot.

Police lockup staffing 'risky'

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on January 21, 2014 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Police are being forced to station country lockups singlely, putting themselves and the prisoners at risk. A prisoner has the right to be provided with adequate food, water, medical services, exercise and items of personal hygiene, which may place additional burdens on a sole police officer charged with the tasks of supervising prisoners. Not only can it affect the prisoner themselves but also the officer, particularly if they require urgent assistance. Indigenous, young people, the aged and mentally ill people may require more supervision or care whilst in police custody. This could be exacerbated when there is no protocol to deal with intoxicated people and the observation of detainees is irregular and infrequent (Indigenous deaths in custody, 2013). Interestingly enough, there appears to be very literature on the rights of the police themeselves, whilst carrying out their duty.

 

A large amount of people have died in custody, with 1997 having the highest statistic of 105 (Deaths in custody, 2008). In particularly in 2008, which saw a total of 86 die in custody, 32 of those were in police cells. This calls for alarm, police cannot be expected to do the job of two or more officers, particularly in country locations where medical and prisoner resources may be tight. Shortage of police in lockups is not only limited to country stations. Perth’s new police station lockup facility has had to stop accepting offenders several times in recent weeks due to the lack of staff to supervise them (Hickey, 2013).

 

A detained person has the right to seek the services of a lawyer or legal representation (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2010: 55) although there appears to be no reason why prisoners in police detention should only have these services minutes before their court representation.

 

This appears to be an issue that is not isolated to country regions or particular Australian states. If this is not a problem that needs to be addressed, there will be another issue to take its place.

Police use technology to target drug users

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on January 14, 2014 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (1)

Police are using the latest scanning technology to target drivers with past drug convictions in addition to the regular scanning attributes such as licence checks and arrest warrants. The additional drug and conviction screening, although may deter some from offending, appears to be of a discriminatory nature. A portion of society has already been punished for their crimes but may for a long time, be a target of the police service in a bid to target active users and criminals.

 

Article 2 of the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials states that police should “respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons”. Targeting previous offenders is also a breach of their privacy, despite the actions of officers covered by legislation. On the other hand, those who abide by the law and road rules, have no fears that they will be pulled over. Although citizens are expected to respect the law, they expect to receive respect for the dignity of a human being and protection of their human rights.

 

Perhaps a positive side is that traffic police officers have been criticised for racial profiling but now they have the technology and concrete reasons to pull someone over. In June this year, a Victorian magistrate ruled that police “did not have an unfettered right to pull over motorists to check licences and registrations and for outstanding warrants” (Chadwick, 2013: n.p). This came after police were under fire for targeting African drivers.

 

It appears that this technological initiative will be successful, apart from breaching the rights of a small minority of the community who have or are breaking the law. There are more incentives for Australian police to utilise this in a bid to stem rising drug and crime, which often go hand in hand and appears to be very challenging to target. Whether or not this breaches international conventions is another thing but the benefits outweigh this for the common good of society.

Police called to major disturbance on Nauru

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on January 7, 2014 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Asylum seekers at the immigration detention centre located in Nauru have initiated a protest as a result of slow-claim processing. Although the Commonwealth Secretariat define asylum seekers as “someone yet to be considered for refugee status under immigration laws” (2006: 138), it is clear that the asylum seekers have no chance of being settled in Australia as a result of a deal announced by Kevin Rudd.

 

Refugees have the right to seek asylum in another country where they are free from persecution, enjoy all basic human rights and be given favourable treatment equal to nationals such as “free association, religion, elementary education, public relief, access to courts, property and housing” (p.141). It appears that the asylum seekers are justified in protesting because they are not being considered refugee status in a case-by-case status and are instead, lumped together and being transferred under the new government deal to another place where someone else can deal with their refugee status.

 

The Refugee Convention states that “people will not be penalised for trying to seek the protection of a country” (Lambert & Pickering, 2001: 220). Again, the asylum in this news article are clearly being penalised by being institutionalised until they are relocated to present themselves as an issue to someone else’s government. It has been said that 80% of those consequently detained, meet the strict definition of the refuge criteria (p. 222).

 

Human rights can be defined as “generally accepted principles of fairness and justice inherent in every individual by virtue of their humanity” (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2006: 13), which paints a clear picture of a breach of human rights by the Australian Government. According to the UN Refugee Convention and Australian Migrant Act 1958, “it is a human right to seek asylum by boat to Australia” (Amnesty International Australia, 2013: n.p) with the majority found to be fleeing from persecution, torture and violence.

 

Australia has the obligation to protect the human rights of all asylum seekers and refugees who arrive in Australia under a number of international treaties such as International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Asylum seekers and refugees, 2013). Although it may appear that the refugees feel that they don’t achieve anything in relation to the protest, they have achieved media coverage which may assist to have their case re-examined individually by government agencies or community organisations.

Aboriginals face police racism

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on December 31, 2013 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

The police appear to be extremely racist towards the Indigenous populations, resulting in high levels of arrest for minor offences such as ‘swearing at a police officer’ in addition to a large number of Prohibited Behaviour Orders being issued. These in particular seem to affect those who are homeless and affected by alcohol and mental health issues. This means that those receiving those orders are banned from the locality in question for a period of two years, which may be impossible to obey due to limitations on where they can seek accommodation or find a safe place to sleep.

 

“Violations of human rights by police officers can only make the already difficult task of law enforcement even more difficult” (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2006: 199). What the article does not mention is the quandary that is placed on police officers by council workers and senior officers to clean up the streets and make it look more presentable and trouble-free whilst on the other hand, respecting the issues of the Indigenous populations and assisting them where possible to address the issues of concern rather than making the situation even more difficult by limiting the facilities and localities they can access.

 

In Western Australia “Indigenous women comprise nearly 70% of women received into prison in a given year, compared to Indigenous men comprising around 45% of the male population” (Cuneen, 2001: 29). Again, minor offences have been cited as the cause of these rates of imprisonment, including fine defaulting and public order offences.

 

Alternatives to policing in the way of Aboriginal Community Patrols appear to be a successful initiative, maintaining a relationship with the police at the same time as reducing levels of arrest and intervention. One such example is of the Mirriwong Patrol in the remote East Kimberley region of Western Australia finding “a dramatic reduction in detentions in police lock-ups from 1336 arrests in 1995 to 188 in 1996” (Blagg & Valuri, 2004: 209). It could be the case that police are more focused on ‘lockup em’ approach with little time, patience or resources to address the issues behind the public offences, whilst community patrols are on the opposite end of the scale.

 

Nethertheless, this does not address the breaches of human rights the homeless community face, in addition to the discrimination allegedly experienced in the hands of police officers. Every human has the right to secure accommodation in addition to “an adequate standard of living, the right to education, the right to liberty and security of the person, the right to privacy . . . the right to freedom from discrimination” (Housing, homelessness and human rights, 2013, n.p.). These rights can be found in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

 

It is difficult to see how the situation of the Indigenous street populations can be improved as it appears that nothing has changed in the past 30 years with the homeless community and the lack of resources and interest presented to this section of society.

Split over young offenders

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on December 24, 2013 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan is calling for changes in legislation in a bid to incarcerate repeat juvenile offenders for a longer time. It appears that there are loopholes being utilised to avoid being incarcerated, which is particularly worrying as detention is believe to be a ‘constructive’ punishment modifying their offending behaviours.

 

“Detention or imprisonment for children shall be an extreme measure of last resort, and detention shall be for the shortest possible time” (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2006:118). Children are susceptible to making mistakes and are especially easily influenced, particularly by offending parents and family members, which can be explained by the biosocial theory of crime in addition to the sociological perspective (Cuneen & White, 2010: 33).

 

Mandatory sentencing was introduced into the Northern Territory in 1996 until it was repealed due to international criticism in 2001. Mandatory sentencing, which is still in existence in Western Australia, appears to breach a number of key articles including the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Cuneen, 2002). It is not in the best interest of the child to incarcerate them when they obviously have issues that need to be addressed or they need to be taken out of the negative environment they may be growing up in. Rehabilitation may be necessary if they are under the influence of drugs and alcohol, have a mental illness or anger management and juvenile detention may not be the appropriate facility to address these issues, particularly if they are under resourced.

 

Indigenous children were apprehended 19.8% for burglary and break and enter, compared to non-aboriginal youths at 9.5% (Cuneen, 2010: 150). This could be as a result of the social inequality theory of crime, they may access considerably less resources and opportunities than young members of mainstream society. Other factors that may affect their levels of offending could include their hyperactivity, impulsivity, parental supervision and discipline, socioeconomic deprivation as well as peer and situation influences (White & Perrone, 2011: 76). It would be interesting to know how incarceration in detention centre would serve to heal the offender and permanently remove these potential offending factors rather than as a temporary response.

 

Placing children in juvenile detention for long periods of time is not the answer and may only serve to push them into the cycle of crime as a way of life.

Police to examine strip search claim

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on December 17, 2013 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

An Indigenous female, who was taken to the Perth Lockups, was believed to have been strip searched by four female and one male officer. Although it was stated that she was under the influence of alcohol under the time of the incident and was said to be difficult to control, it would be expected that the  incident is a humiliating and degrading experience for the female offender. It is hard to find any justification or positive acts as a result of such an incident.

 

“Police officers should always act in an ethical and dignified manner” (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2006: 93). Although it is up to the police to determine whether a strip search is reasonably necessary, it must be conducted by a person of the same sex unless the searcher is a doctor or nurse. This was not the case in the above article. In addition, any person in the presence of a strip searched being carried out, must, if possible, also be of the same sex. “The number of people present should be limited to the number reasonably necessary to ensure the search is carried out safely and effectively” (Legal Aid Western Australia, 2013). There were four female officers present, once could assume that this should have been enough.

 

It was said to not have been an isolated incident. “Throughout Western Australia, some 97% of the women placed in police custody for drunkenness were Indigenous” (Cuneen, 2001:165). There could be many more situations where the human rights of Indigenous women have been breached, similar or worse to the situation exposed of this particular woman in the Perth Lockups. It could also be said that Indigenous women may be less likely to report discrimination and racism, particularly when they are intoxicated. It would be difficult to prevent such situations from reoccurring when it is difficult to have them exposed or perhaps even believed.

NSW premier boosts gun search powers

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on December 10, 2013 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

New South Wales police will have the power to stop and search people, cars and suspicious locations for weapons, without a warrant under new legislation, particularly those who are banned from owning a weapon regardless of reason. This could mean that police will be able to seize illegal weapons held by those with no licence, subsequently assisting to decrease, however slight it may be, the amount of weapons in the wrong hands. This is lawful when authorised by law (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2006: 93).

 

Unfortunately, the relaxed requirements for a search will mean that targets will be based on discrimination and racial profiling to name a few human right breaches. The new law comes after police seized illegal weapons from the vehicle belonging to a bikie gang member.

 

These laws are a breach of human rights because according to Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is stated that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor attacks on his honour and reputation”. It could mean that just because a person has made a mistake in the past which resulted in a ban from possessing a weapon, they are now subjected for life to searches without due cause. They may have received a fine in the past in addition to the ban but they will continue to pay the price.

 

Human rights “cannot be excluded from any sphere of human life” (Kleinig, 1996) and it should be expected that we have the right to protect ourselves. “Police resources are constantly stretched, so people are increasingly taking responsibility for their own safety with measures that are dangerous to criminals” (Montgomery, 2008). It could be expected that this would refer to within the person’s home to possess a weapon, although the new legislation includes this personal location.

 

The New South Wales Police Firearms Registry issues licences and permits to those with “a genuine reason for possessing and using a firearm” (Information on obtaining a firearms licence in NSW, 2013) in order to eliminate the possession of firearms and weapons for the purposes of criminal activity. Although this hard-hitting new law may breach the human rights of people in terms of their privacy, home, honour and reputation, those who do right by the law should not be expected to face the impact of this new legislation. In addition, human rights are not absolute and “the power to search persons, private property and buildings is a power essential to prevention and detection of crime” (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2006: 93).

Why is 'international policing' difficult?

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on December 3, 2013 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)

It is an expensive venture to send members of a police force to another country, particularly if they are not available for full-time deployment. In addition, it is not always possible to have a surplus of staff like the military, particularly as there may not always be the need for manpower. It may be months or even years for this need to come across and in the meantime, to have the officers on hand would be a waste of resources such as time and money.

Some member countries have been forced to send officers who lack the expertise or experience to police other nation states but with a lack of suitably skilled employees, there appears to be no other alternative. Recruitment can be difficult when officers are deployed for terms of years rather than months, particularly if they have a family or some form of commitment in their home environment.

Assisting other nation states can cause disagreements about how society should be controlled and what laws enforced such as the United States attempting to make Iraq a democratic state. The western military have been training local armies and police officers to make a positive difference in the issues the nation states have faced but some have turned on their trainers, at times using deadly force. There is also the chance that authoritarian regimes may be assisted to repress their people, even if the intentions of the helping nation state are of a well-meaning nature.

On the other hand, there may be a complete reliance on the assistance but once the initiative has been completed and the police decide to wrap up their work, the nation state may return to the poor quality of life and issues experienced previously.

There are many difficulties faced in the nature of international policing, despite its well-meaning nature. Some of these issues can be overcome with time or organisation; others will continue to make the job a difficult task.

Police Ethics Sliding

Posted by StreetkidIndustries on November 26, 2013 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (0)

New officers emerging from the police academy fully equipped with positive ethics are finding the police culture on the job is diminishing their education. It’s hard to imagine what else could promote good ethics and morals in the police industry if the academy has failed in improving professionalism.  

Article 7 of the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials states that “law enforcement officials shall not commit any act of corruption. They shall also rigorously oppose and combat all such acts” but this doesn’t appear to be possible. In addition, Article 2 states that they “shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons”. The latter appears to be breached if officers are swearing at members of the public although policing being a stressful job has two sides of the stories and perhaps some people unofficially warrant this reaction. 

Police are placed in a position in society “where abuse of human rights can take place readily, if there are no systems of accountability” (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2006: 24). There is reporting of corruption and swearing at members of the public, which appears to reflect the little accountability and supervision. One could imagine that this is the tip of the iceberg and perhaps any more degrading and serious matters would be withheld to members of the media to protect the reputation of the Queensland Police Service. This working personality is regarded as important because “it is often held that this helps to shape the ways in which policing is applied in practice” (Rowe, 2010: 98). 

On the other hand, it could be the case that only a few minority cases have been reported in the study, which appears to make the entire police service of a suspicious and corrupt nature. Unless the police are equipped with the latest camera and microphone systems every time they are out on patrol, it is very difficult to determine exactly how relevant this survey is and to maintain intensive supervision on officers who are susceptible to act immorally.