Showing posts with label police. Show all posts
Showing posts with label police. Show all posts

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The United States of America under Trump - the ugly picture in two tweets



NOTE

Depending on the source the number of people shot and killed by U.S. police range between 575 and 700 in 2017.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Instead of addressing the root causes of homelessness in NSW the Berejiklian Government allows this to occur


It doesn’t matter what political stripe the NSW government of the day is - the issue of homelessness is rarely addressed in a positive fashion.

One only has to consult the National Library of Australia and Trove digital newspaper records to see that homelessness and Sydney have gone hand in hand since the city was established. As has the threat of violence towards those without a roof over their heads.

In February1890 a physical count of homeless people sleeping rough in the city occurred and 127 year later a count still occurs.

In February 1890 the count stood at 472 rough sleepers and by February 2017 the homeless count on the night was 433 rough sleepers, with another 489 people in crisis/temporary accommodation* and 28 people of no fixed address in hospital.

In the last fifty years to date in Sydney, the usual first response considered when the number of homeless people become highly visible is to force these people out of the inner city area to become the problem of other suburbs and different councils.

These clearances often only come to the notice of the general public during the lead up to high profile events such as state visits or when Sydney hosted the Olympics in 2000.

This time it was the turn of the Berejiklian Coalition Government and The City of Sydney Council to attempt to scatter the homeless from the inner-city by using NSW Police as their all too willing pit bulls.

Note the swift jabs by the male police officer at about 0:06-0:07 mins into this video

Facebook:
Now if this sweep of Sydney streets runs true to form an official spokesperson will say that the homeless have been offered alternative accommodation and many have refused.

This is officialese for handing out the contact details of overworked and under-resourced homeless services. 

The most easily accessible being the night refuges which are frequently only marginally safer than sleeping rough for the most vulnerable of those on the streets and which can offer little more than temporary night accommodation on a first-come-first-served basis. 
While other crisis/temporary accommodation offered through Dept of Housing/FaCS can be for as little as 2-5 days in a budget motel, caravan park or similar.

The current waiting list for permanent social housing in the Sydney metropolitan area is generally between 5 to 10+ years.

Well done, Sydney! Home to a heavy-handed, often violent police force, a city administration without a heart and a cruelly indifferent state government.

Note

There were 16 crisis accommodation hostels with a minimum of 414 beds operating in the City of Sydney local government area in February 2017.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

NSW Police public relations blunder


In light of ongoing revelations concerning data security and privacy breaches (including hacking) by police personnel around Australia, this was not exactly a wise post on the part of NSW Police on or about 6 May 2017. As evidenced by its apparent online deletion since.



Saturday, 17 December 2016

The national shame of 2-4 August 2014 should never ever be repeated


"It is profoundly disturbing to witness the appalling treatment of this young woman at the Lock-Up on 4 August 2014. In her final hours she was unable to have the comfort of the presence of her loved ones, and was in the care of a number of police officers who disregarded her welfare and her right to humane and dignified treatment." [Excerpt from Western Australia State Coroner, coronial finding, 16 December 2016]

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

"This is sacred land": noting Lakota resistance at Standing Rock, Dakota, U.S.A.


A reminder that standing up for community and against powerful mining interests is never easy no matter where in the world you live.

Inquisitr, 29 October 2016:

Amnesty International and the United Nations have announced that they are sending officials to investigate allegations of human rights violations at the site of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.
Amnesty International announced Friday that they were sending a delegation of human rights observers to monitor the response of law enforcement against DAPL protesters after concerns mounted about increasingly violent actions towards the peaceful protesters.

Telesur, 29 October 2016:

Owners of the North Dakota Access Pipeline have been warned that they risk legal liability over several instances of human rights abuses against peaceful Native American and environmental activists opposing the US$3.8 billion pipeline, as militarized law enforcement have increasingly used violence and repression at protest camps.
The joint letter released Friday by five environmental and legal advocacy organizations said that the joint owners of the pipeline “have a corporate duty under international law and the laws of the United States to respect human rights and to avoid complicity in further human rights abuses.”
The advocacy groups said that in recent weeks the situation in the Standing Rock camp “has deteriorated further,” making reference to recent violent crackdowns by law enforcement and security personnel on peaceful protestors.

Twitter, 31 October 2016:
  

Facebook post:


Speechless. I was shot by militarized police WHILE interviewing a peaceful man at Standing Rock live on camera. I woke up this morning with the thought that I may have that very footage – and broke down in reliving the 40-second horror before my own eyes. Warning: it's very very difficult to watch and sent me into quivers and tears, even without the compounding historic trauma that Native Americans face.

I do not wish to divert focus away from the bravery of the Water Protectors, from the power of nonviolent direct action, from the people fighting for their lives and for our futures – but I want you to witness the indiscriminate use of excessive force firsthand. Many have said that militarized police firing a rubber bullet at a female reporter was a fabrication, provoked by violence, or otherwise merited, including a Morton County, North Dakota press release. That is a lie; we have proof and eyewitnesses (cc Josh Fox, Matt McGorry, Jordan Chariton, Josue Rivas, Evan Simon, Josh Fox, Wes Mekasi Horinek, Kendrick Sampson, Doug Pineda, Doug Good Feather and countless more).

I was standing innocently onshore, not making any aggressive gestures, never exchanging a single word with the police who fired at my lower back from their boat. Peaceful souls were seeking to cross the river to hold a prayer circle on Army Corps public land, but halted by over one hundred hostile military police armed with and deploying tear gas, pepper spray, batons, and rubber bullets, as well as assault weapons and the threat of jail, only one week after 141 individuals were brutally arrested. I was shot at pointblank range, dozens were maced and pepper sprayed in the face, hundreds faced freezing waters. There were no arrests or deaths and I will be okay physically, but the safety and wellbeing of many peoples and lands remain in danger, for present and future generations.

Thank you for your prayers, for your action in calling upon our President, government and Department of Justice to halt this atrocity immediately, for showing up and donating to support this fight for human rights, for the environment, for peace. Please continue to pray for the strength and protection of all peoples, for the physical pain, for the emotional trauma, for the desecrated land. #StandWithStandingRock #NoDAPL


Thursday, 27 October 2016

Policing in Australia sometimes seems like a tale of violence, sexually predatory behaviour and racially motivated assault - not on the part of street criminals but on the part of police themselves


The Age, 23 October 2016:

More than a third of all Victoria Police officers who appealed dismissals or demotions in the past two years were disciplined because of predatory behaviour towards women, including family violence victims, colleagues, and women who were vulnerable or in care.

A senior constable was found to have preyed on five women, one officer exposed himself to staff, a 44-year-old had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, and several officers, including a Police Academy trainer at graduation celebrations, vulgarly propositioned women.

Almost exactly two years ago, former Chief Commissioner Ken Lay confronted troubling attitudes towards women within Victoria Police head-on when he announced a Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission independent review into the force.

But an analysis of Police Registration and Services Board review hearings shows the extent of this culture in stark detail.

The board hears the appeals of those who are disciplined by the internal police investigation unit, Professional Standards Command.

Unless an officer appeals to the board, or is charged with a criminal offence, details of the behaviour which led to their dismissal is rarely made public.

The board started publishing its decisions in 2014.

Police Registration and Services Board review decisions can be found here.

Some recent examples……

Taking advantage of a vulnerable female
DECISION The Board acknowledges the strong work record of the Applicant, his lack of any malicious intent and accepts that he would be unlikely to engage in such conduct in the future. However, a consideration of all of the factors set out above, especially the public interest in maintaining community confidence in Victoria Police, weighs strongly in favour of dismissal. Vulnerable members of the public must be able to seek help from the police force without any risk that they will be vulnerable to further harm from those entrusted to protect them. Having considered all the material and the submissions made, and after having regard to the public interest and the interests of the Applicant, the Board is not satisfied that the Inquiry Officer’s decision to dismiss the Applicant was harsh, unjust or unreasonable. Accordingly, the decision to dismiss the Applicant stands. The Board publishes these reasons for decision pursuant to Section 154A, subject to the redaction of the material in Appendix 1. The Board directs that the material in Appendix 1 not be published or communicated beyond the parties and their representatives. For the Board, all members concurring.

Making unwelcome sexual advances to a female public servant and publicly exposure himself
DECISION Having considered all the material and the submissions made, and after having regard to the public interest and the interests of the Applicant, the Board is not satisfied that the Inquiry Officer’s decision to dismiss the Applicant was harsh, unjust or unreasonable. Accordingly, the decision to dismiss the Applicant stands. Pursuant to the provisions of s.154A of the Act the Board proposes to publish these reasons. For the Board, all members concurring

Assault of a member of the public
DECISION Having considered all the material and the submissions made, and after having regard to the public interest and the interests of the Applicant, the Board is not satisfied that the Inquiry Officer’s decision to dismiss the Applicant was harsh, unjust or unreasonable. Accordingly, the decision to dismiss the Applicant stands. Pursuant to the provisions of s.154A of the Act these Reasons for Decision are to be published. For the Board, all members concurring.

Just in case anyone is under the impression that police conduct is of a higher standard in New South Wales because we see fewer published misconduct reports, I remind readers that on 7 March 2013 New Matilda reported:

In just the past few years we have seen case after case with compelling prima facie evidence of police brutality and excessive use of police force. However not a single case has resulted in a police officer being either demoted or dismissed, let alone charged with assault or another criminal offence. It is worthwhile at this point recalling just some of the incidents that have sparked community unrest in the past few years.

In November 2009 police were called to the home of Adam Salter by his dad. Salter was mentally ill and harming himself with a sharp knife in the kitchen. It was a frightening and dangerous incident. The most senior officer on site called out "Taser! Taser! Taser!" before shooting Salter dead with her glock pistol. What looked like a terrible tragedy and mistake was internally investigated by police. That police investigation cleared police of wrongdoing and the officers involved were in fact promoted.

When the coroner reviewed the matter (pdf) she found much of what the police had alleged was "simply not true", other parts were "almost entirely wrong", "a failure and a disgrace". The Salter’s family lawyer described it as "a whitewash" and "a cover up". Since then the Police involved have been the subject of an Ombudsman review and a Police Integrity review. Years have passed and no-one has been held to account for the tragedy.

In February 2011 Bugmy, an Indigenous man, was at his grandmother’s home in Wilcannia. When police entered he was holding a knife. His partner took that off him. He knelt on the ground with his shirt off and his hands behind his back. When he wouldn’t lay face down on the floor, police tasered him multiple times.

A magistrate found this unreasonable and excessive use of force. An internal taser review by police cleared the officers of any wrong doing. You can see the disturbing footage yourself and make up your own mind. Despite criticism from the Ombudsman, no disciplinary action has been taken against the police involved.

In January 2011 Cory Baker, a young Indigenous man, was taken to the Ballina Police Station where he said he was seriously assaulted by a group of police. An internal police investigation and report was produced. The police investigation cleared police and concluded that Baker had assaulted them.

At trial, deeply disturbing CCTV footage of the police viciously assaulting Baker was eventually produced as a result of an order by a local magistrate. The charges against Baker were dropped. These events are only now being investigated by the Police Integrity Commission. It has now come to light that a senior officer told at least one junior officer what to write in his statement for the internal investigation. That version was blatantly false. Again no disciplinary action has been taken against the officers.

In March last year a young Brazilian man, Roberto Curti, died after being handcuffed face down on the ground and repeatedly capsicum sprayed and tasered by police. Again, an internal police review produced no recommendations for any disciplinary action by the police involved. The Coroner found the attempted arrest of Roberto involved "ungoverned, excessive police use of force." The Coroner found numerous police gave untruthful accounts (pdf) of what occurred on the night.

Curti’s case was the subject of a further critical finding by the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman’s report found (pdf) that the internal police investigation was procedurally flawed, failed to consider the lawfulness of the police actions and failed to properly analyse the police use of force. To date not one officer has been charged or disciplined as a result of Curti’s death.
Just this week a further disturbing case has emerged of a police officer at the Mardi Gras throwing 18-year old Jamie Jackson to the ground on Oxford Street and then roughly placing a foot on his back. The young man appears dazed and bleeding as a result of the force with which he struck the pavement. Jackson says he was just crossing the road and did not deserve to be assaulted.

The police have said that they are holding an internal inquiry into the incident that will establish the truth of what happened. Increasingly no one believes this. As the short summary above shows, there are exceptionally good reasons to doubt the capacity of police investigating police to get to the truth in these cases.

There is an inherent conflict of interest whenever we have police investigating themselves. This cannot be resolved until NSW has a single independent police review body which is sufficiently resourced and has its own officers undertake all critical incident reviews.

While on 11 September 2013 SBS News reported:

Corey Barker, 24, was taken into custody in January 2011 after attempting to help two friends in an aggressive street confrontation with police in Ballina. Details about his arrest have emerged in a damning Police Integrity Commission (PIC) report, tabled in parliament on Tuesday.

It found officers slammed Mr Barker into a bin and a chair before swinging him into a machine. He was then forced to the ground before being kicked in the head and kneed in the side.
"The police treatment of Barker can fairly be described as violent," the report said.

Mr Barker was handcuffed and dragged along the floor on his stomach by his arms to a cell where he was left in handcuffs for more than 90 minutes. "This method would have been acutely painful and was brutal," the PIC said.

It found constables David Hill, Lee Walmsley, Ryan Eckersley and Luke Mewing used excessive force against Mr Barker.

They were also found to have lied about the arrest, along with Senior Constable Mark Woolven and former sergeant Robert McCubben, who was medically discharged from the force last December.

The matter came before the PIC after Mr Barker fronted the courts in 2011 charged with the assault of Const Hill.

All six officers gave evidence Mr Barker punched Const Hill in the face while being walked from a holding cage to a cell.

But the assault case was thrown out after CCTV footage - at first thought to have been damaged - showed Mr Barker had in fact been the victim of a police attack. Police were ordered to pay his legal costs.

Commissioner Bruce James has recommended all six officers engaged in misconduct and should be considered for prosecution under the Crimes Act.

Then there is this from Sydney Criminal Lawyers on 22 June 2015:

Police brutality is not just limited to fatal shootings. We recently wrote a blog about 16-year-old Aboriginal girl Melissa Dunn who was arrested by police for resisting arrest and hindering police. CCTV footage of the incident showed police officers brutally tackling the girl outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Sydney’s CBD, before her head hit the gutter and she was rendered unconscious.
A children’s court magistrate later found Melissa ‘not guilty’ of the charges and criticised police for using an ‘inordinate amount of force’ during her arrest. Melissa tragically ended her life just three days after her trial ended.

We also reported on the highly-publicised case of the young, slightly-built young man who was slammed to the ground during the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras by a heavily-built police officer. It seems that this brazen officer was undeterred by the presence of several members of the public, some of whom were filming the incident. The list goes on.

Such cases indicate that issues of police brutality and excessive force are a cause for concern in Australia, despite consecutive attempts to reform the law and redress these injustices.

Later that same year ABC News reported this curious fact on 24 September:

Internal investigations into deaths and serious injuries during police operations have not resulted in disciplinary action against any officer.

The figures, tabled in NSW Parliament, reveal that between January 2013 and August this year, 62 critical incidents were investigated by police.

Two adverse findings were recorded against a police officer in one case, with the officer given counselling. No disciplinary action was recorded against police in any of the 62 cases.

The figures were provided by the Government in response to questions on notice put by Greens MP David Shoebridge.

It will be interesting to see if the new NSW Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) due to become fully operational in 2017 will even make a dent in entrenched police culture in this state.

Those NSW police officers who perform their duties diligently, with compassion and goodwill must sometimes wonder when senior commanders are finally going to get their act together and weed out those violent and predatory individuals they must rub shoulders with in the force.

UPDATE

On 21 December 2016 Senior Constables David Hill and Mark Woolven, Constables Ryan Charles Eckersley and Luke Christopher Mewing, Probationary Constable Lee David Walmsley and Sergeant Robert Campbell McCubben were acquitted in the NSW District Court of assaulting Cory Baker at Ballina Police Station in 2013.


In June 2016 Sergeant Sheree Bissett, Sergeant Emily Metcalfe, Senior Constable Leah Wilson and Constable Aaron Abela were acquitted of perjury in the NSW District Court in relation to the shooting death of mentally ill man Adam Salter in the family home in 2009.  

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

This type of police surveillance will come as no surprise to Australian blogs which post on local and regional protests


CNN.com, 11 October 2016:

The ACLU of California reported that Geofeedia had been providing law enforcement with data -- including locations -- from the social media accounts of protestors. In response, it said Tuesday that Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram had cut off Geofeedia's access to their feeds.

The extent of law enforcement's social media surveillance was discovered through public records requests of 63 agencies in California, according to the ACLU of California. Emails obtained show the tools were used to monitor chatter around "the Ferguson situation," and that Geofeedia told California law enforcement agencies to find out how police in Baltimore used its tools to "stay one step ahead of rioters," after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody.

Geofeedia provided searchable data from public Instagram posts, troves of publicly shared information from Facebook (FBTech30) via the Topic Feed API, and public tweets. Information in Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram posts can be used to infer things like location, personal associations and religious affiliation.

The ACLU says Geofeedia and other social media surveillance tools can unfairly impact communities of color. Movements like #BlackLivesMatter began on social media, and Twitter, in particular, is used as a platform for organizing and amplifying protests.

"Communities of color rely on platforms to organize, to persuade, and to spread information," Matt Cagle, technology and civil liberties policy attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, told CNNMoney. "But here, the social networks left a side door open for surveillance by the police."

Law enforcement agencies invest thousands in the tools that aggregate and surveil conversation data --the Daily Dot reported that the Denver Police Department spent $30,000 on these types of tools in May. The ACLU launched an investigation in Denver in response to this report.

Based on information in the @ACLU's report, we are immediately suspending @Geofeedia's commercial access to Twitter data.
— Policy (@policy) October 11, 2016

In an email obtained by the ACLU of California through public records requests, Geofeedia claims "over 500 law enforcement and public safety agencies" use its services.

After the ACLU's report on Tuesday, Twitter tweeted that Geofeedia's access had been revoked.

"In addition to cutting off data access, the social networks should take additional steps to implement clear rules that prohibit the use of user data for surveillance, and oversight measures to ensure developers are not using the user data for surveillance," Cagle said.

The organization is joining with the Center for Media Justice and Color of Change to ask social media sites to commit to better protecting users engaged in political and social discourse.

Malkia Cyril, the executive director of the Center for Media Justice, said that people are using social media to expose human rights abuses, turning these platforms into modern day news outlets. However, the sites aren't not subject to the same kind of scrutiny or standards, she said.

"I wasn't surprised," Cyril told CNNMoney. "But I do think the average user should be shocked and dismayed at the scope and the scale of what the ACLU found."

Monday, 22 August 2016

Five hours of alleged neglect in a Maitland Police cell and a woman lay dead

Maitland Police Station. Image: The Sydney Morning Herald

There is absolutely no excuse for any intoxicated person dying whilst in police custody.

The mother of four, a Wiradjuri woman, was placed in a cell alone at about 1am and checked on at 6am. [The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2016]

If true, the reported five hour gap between security checks by a detention officer should be called for what it is – neglect of the safety and physical wellbeing of a vulnerable person.

Aboriginal Legal Service, excerpt from media release, 17 August 2016:

NSW legislation may need to be reviewed

Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT (ALS) is concerned about the care of intoxicated persons in police holding cells following the tragic death of an Aboriginal woman in police cell custody on 19 July 2016.

Rebecca Maher, 36, died in police cell custody in Maitland Police Station following her detainment by police for apparent intoxification.

Although earlier reports suggested Rebecca Maher was arrested, police media reports state Rebecca Maher was detained for intoxification.

A police media statement says Ms Maher had ‘appeared intoxicated’ and was placed in a holding cell, and ‘about 6am the woman was found deceased.’

Gary Oliver, CEO of ALS says the legislation relating to the detention of intoxicated persons may need review.

“We understand Rebecca Maher had been held in a holding cell for some hours before she was found to be deceased.

“We have many questions about what happened that night, and that includes what continuing avenues the police took to find a responsible person as guided by the legislation, and during that time, what level of care was provided to Rebecca Maher during those 5-6 hours while held by police.

“Putting an intoxicated person into a cell places enormous responsibility on the police to carefully manage the health and welfare of that person until which time they do not appear to be intoxicated and can be released.

“Police notification using the ALS Custody Notification Service (CNS) applies if police have arrested a person for an alleged offence.

“Police are currently not required to call the CNS when they have detained someone who appears to be intoxicated for the sole purpose of their own welfare.

“Police however are required to do a number of other things, including giving the person an opportunity to contact a responsible person, or continually seeking to put the person into the care of a responsible person willing to undertake the care of the intoxicated person, such as a family member, a friend, a member of staff of a government or non-government organisation, or a facility providing welfare or alcohol or other drug rehabilitation services.

“If a responsible person cannot be found, or if the person is not willing to go into the care of the responsible person, or if it is impracticable to transport the person to a responsible person or to their home, police may hold the person at the Station as a temporary measure until that person is seen not to be intoxicated.

“Under the legislation, if the intoxicated person is kept at the station, they have to be kept in a separate part of the station, they are not to be detained in a cell unless it is necessary or impracticable to lock up the person elsewhere, and they have to be given food, drink, bedding and blankets, appropriate to their needs.

“The person must be released as soon as they stop being intoxicated, or appear to not be seriously affected.

“If an intoxicated person is held but not charged, under existing legislation, there is no requirement to call the CNS.

“This may well be a law reform issue. A vulnerable person in custody needs protection.

“A notification system such as the CNS can help trigger protective processes, such as health and welfare checks.

“However, the legislation already requires police to enact certain pathways to ensure the care of the intoxicated person.

“Did police enact those pathways?

“Does the legislation relating to the detention and notification of intoxicated persons need to be reviewed?

“These are some of our questions.

“It is the 25th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody this year, and so many recommendations have still not been implemented, yet they remain astutely relevant.

“The lessons for the care of Aboriginal people in custody are already written. Let’s use them.”

 NSW Police Force, media release, 19 July 2016:

Critical incident - Maitland

A critical incident has been launched after a woman died while in custody at Maitland Police Station.
About 12.45am (Tuesday 19 July 2016), police located and detained a 36-year-old woman who appeared intoxicated, walking along Wollumbi Road, Cessnock.
The woman was transported by police to Maitland Police Station and placed in a holding cell.
About 6am the woman was found deceased.
A Critical Incident Team from Newcastle will now investigate all circumstances surrounding the incident.
That investigation will be subject to independent review.
All information will be provided to the Coroner who will determine the cause of death and make any findings about the events leading to the woman’s death.
The welfare of the police officers has been addressed and they are being supported.
The woman's family has been notified and our thoughts and condolences go out to the family.

Monday, 23 May 2016

So who destroyed any credibility left to NBN Co. and the Australian Federal Police?


On 19 May 2016 it was reported that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) used warrants to search an electorate office occupied by former Communications Minister and current Shadow Minister for Defence Senator Stephen Conroy and the home of one of Shadow Minister for Communications Jason Clare’s staffers looking for evidence of a whistleblower involved in leaking NBN Co. documents, which outlined cost blowouts as well as planning and delivery failures in the rollout of Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull’s faster, cheaper, sooner national broadband network.

The ABC sighted a warrant and reported that it named Labor Senator Stephen Conroy, staffers, technology bloggers, and four major media organisations including the ABC and that It required the people subject to the warrant to hand over all documents relating to those people and organisations.

A number of NBN employees were also interviewed in relation to this matter on 19 May according to the AFP.

This is a redacted copy of the letter sent to AFP Manager Crimes Operations after the raid on Conroy's Melbourne office and the Brunswick home of a Labor staffer:

So who was this mysterious civilian seconded assistantwho apparently snapped over 30 images of documents over which parliamentary privilege had been claimed and, sent them on to various employees of NBN Co?

An un-redacted screenshot was displayed on Twitter in the early evening of 20 May for those who missed the hint In The Australian the first time around:

On the same day this set tongues wagging on Twitter:


So the cat is allegedly out of the bag and it is rumoured that the man at the centre of the political furore at the end of Week Two of the federal election campaign is a former Frankston detective senior constable, former partner in a furniture business, former head of security at a casino and current works in security at NBN Co.

However, this rumour remains unconfirmed because neither Team Turnbull, NBN Co. nor the federal police are about to name names. Transparency and accountability are not concepts that would normally be associated with these three.

The AFP stated in a 20 May 2016 media release that the federal government and opposition were appropriately notified and advised of operational activity regarding this matter after it commenced yesterday.

The current Minister for Communications and Senator for Victoria Mitch Fifield has admitted that he knew about the complaint to the AFP and the subsequent investigation but denies knowing of the warrants or tipping off the media to the night raids.

Sky News reported that Malcolm Turnbull said he first became aware of the raids when notified by Justice Minister Michael Keenan on Thursday, after the minister had been briefed by the AFP chief.

To date Attorney-General George Brandis is not on the record as to what he knew.

As the raids on both Steven Conroy and one of two Labor staffers were filmed by mainstream media there remains a suspicion that a person within government or police circles told the media about the when and where of these searches (second raid seen in this video).

When it comes to the exact type and status of those documents allegedly improperly distributed by the AFP/”Mr.Steere”, one will have to wait and see what any post-federal election Senate inquiry on the parliamentary privilege claim reveals or if Labor makes a formal complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman or commences legal action.


UPDATE

First leaked 12 page document from NBN Co titled Overbuilding Optus and marked Commercial Confidential,second leaked 12 page power point presentation CTO Briefing: Fibre to the distribution point and marked Internal Use and Scale the Deployment Program – Fttx Design and Construction. Copy of NBN Corporate Plan 2013 not yet found.


The Register, 22 May 2016:

The staffer has been identified as Simon Lee-Steere, nbnTM's general manager for security investigations, although in the only public document (below) his name has been redacted…..
Later, in defense of the staffer's actions, nbnTM corporate communications executive Karina Keisler Tweeted that the company's staffer was acting with the authorisation, and under the instruction, of AFP officers.

Business Insider, 23 May 2016:

NBN Co has stood down two of its employees over alleged involvement in the leaking of documents which resulted in last week’s AFP raids on Labor offices.
A spokesperson for the company confirmed that two employees had been stood aside while the AFP investigation was taking place. NBN Co did not name the employees or wish to comment further.
This news follows a dramatic few days for the government and the NBN, after police raided the offices of Labor senator Stephen Conroy, the homes of Andy Byrne and Ryan Hamilton as well as two staffers of shadow communications minister Jason Clare…..
The Australian Federal Police no longer have access to seized documents after the Labor party claimed parliamentary privilege.
AFP commissioner Andrew Colvin confirmed that the documents seized have now been sealed, and can’t be accessed until the matter goes before the Senate….

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Australian Federal Police and the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) in 2016


The Australian Federal Police (AFP) are not covering themselves with glory in relation to one Australian union.......

This article in The Guardian on 16 April 2016 appears to indicate that, in subsequent interactions with Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the Australian Federal Police did not forget that the union had successfully defended itself in court in 2015:

A complaint from the construction union to the commonwealth ombudsman paints an extraordinary picture of heavy-handed tactics by special police taskforces, including a police officer allegedly warning one unionist he knew his children’s names and what time he dropped them off to school.

The letter, sent by the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) on Tuesday, complains that police repeatedly attempted to question witnesses without their lawyers present and, in one case, demanded a junior employee grant access to union headquarters during a raid without first showing her a warrant.

The union’s complaint alleges that when the Australian federal police searched the ACT branch’s headquarters on 25 August, one officer told the branch secretary Dean Hall, “I do know about your family things”, to explain how he knew his wife’s name.

“Like, I know your kids’ names and their ages and where they go to school and when you drop them off,” the officer is said to have told Hall. “What do you expect? I am profiling you.”

The union’s lawyer, Phillip Pasfield, told the ombudsman these alleged statements were intimidatory, unwarranted and designed to threaten Hall, who was “extremely upset” about the incident.

In December the Australian Capital Territory supreme court ruled that the raid was unlawful because police withheld information from the magistrate in order to get the warrant.

The CFMEU complained that the officer in charge of the raid told building industry participants that he would prefer to make workplace agreements with the Master Builders Association, not the CFMEU…..

The union claimed the AFP deliberately misled a Fairfax Media journalist by saying a CFMEU official had been “raided” on 2 December then changed its story to say the raid related to the official but was not a raid on his or her property. This was done to “destroy the reputation of the official involved”, it said.

In another incident, the CFMEU said the union police taskforce provided false information or failed to correct journalist Stephen Drill, who incorrectly reported Victoria police’s union taskforce Heracles had raided the CFMEU’s Victorian headquarters…..

While this report in The Guardian on 9 May 2016 raises serious concerns about the conduct of the federal police:
Union officials have launched an extraordinary attack on the Australian Federal Police, accusing the force of adopting an "unbalanced and aggressive" approach to union activities and executing the Turnbull government's union-busting ambitions.
Sparking a flare-up of simmering tensions this week, a Victorian union safety officer has become the subject of a criminal investigation after he tested the stability of a guard rail during a site visit and it immediately collapsed.
A letter from the AFP, seen by Fairfax Media, details the allegation of property damage against the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union's Peter Clarke. 
The union said the case was "bizarre" and added to serious concerns that police were responding to political pressure to become more heavily involved in industrial relations matters.
"This is a bizarre use of AFP resources that ought to be used to deal with the serious criminality that goes on in the community," union secretary Dave Noonan said.
"It's clear to us that senior officers of the Australian Federal Police are directing some kind of campaign against the union and its officials."
The case is the latest example of what the CFMEU claims is unjust, heavy-handed treatment of its members and officials in Victoria, the ACT and Queensland by the federal police. Slater & Gordon, the union's legal firm, has filed a formal complaint against the AFP with the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
Video footage of the alleged property damage incident shows Mr Clarke – a safety officer with the union's Victorian branch – approaching the guard rail during a safety inspection at a Canberra construction site in February. It appears to show him momentarily shaking the railing before a large section collapses.
Mr Clarke has been called in for interrogation over the incident.
"During the course of the investigation, Mr Clarke was identified as being responsible for damaging a guard rail at that location," AFP acting Commander Robert Wilson said in the letter.
"The allegation against Mr Clarke is property damage ... Police wish to speak to Mr Clarke in relation to the matter in the form of a record of interview."
The union said falls from heights were a leading cause of workplace injury and death, and every safety official was expected to check the stability of guard rails during site inspections. Statistics from Safe Work Australia shows the nation's construction industry accounts for almost 40 per cent of fall-related deaths.
"The fact that this rail was so flimsy it didn't survive a light shake shows it would have been completely ineffective in preventing a fall, and completely fails to comply with the relevant codes of practices," Mr Noonan said.
"Are our priorities saving workers on construction sites from getting killed, or trying to cover up for builders who cut corners on occupational health and safety and put workers' lives at risk?"
The Australian Federal Police said the investigation was ongoing and it would not be appropriate to comment.

CFMEU video footage of the alleged property damage:

The Guardian, 5 May 2016:

In separate proceedings, union official and rugby league great John Lomax will appear in the ACT Supreme Court on Friday against the AFP.

Mr Lomax was investigated and prosecuted for blackmail last year, with police alleging he attempted to force a Canberra painting company and its principal to sign a union enterprise bargaining agreement.

The prosecution was dropped in October. 

Now Mr Lomax is considering a malicious prosecution lawsuit. 

He and his lawyers declined to comment ahead of Friday's court appearance.

But CFMEU national construction secretary Dave Noonan, Mr Lomax's employer, said the former Canberra Raiders hardman's lawyers had been forced to seek a court order to access information about the investigation after requests to the federal police failed.

"The solicitors [who act for Mr Lomax] have sought various documents to ascertain whether or not our concern that there was a malicious element to the prosecution can be sustained," Mr Noonan said.

"Those documents have not been supplied.

"As the documents were not produced it's necessary to make an application in court for pre-trial discovery."

Mr Noonan said the contents of the documents would determine whether Mr Lomax would launch a malicious prosecution suit against the federal police.

"[Mr Lomax] was charged on a completely bogus charge, our QC said so at the time, they proceeded with the charge, they failed to provide any evidence to the court and the charges were dropped.

"If the AFP has got nothing to hide, why not provide the documents? If they acted in good faith, why not provide the documents?

"We think the proper thing for the AFP to do is to produce the documents."


ABC News reporting on the ACT arm of the Australian Federal Police on 22 March 2016:

A former staffer at the centre of an investigation into the office of Labor MLA Joy Burch has hit out at ACT police after it was announced the inquiry had been dropped.

Last year, allegations arose that Ms Burch's chief of staff, Maria Hawthorne, leaked sensitive details of conversations between the ACT Government and the chief of police about the conduct of officers on construction sites in Canberra, to the Construction, Forestry, Mining, Energy Union (CFMEU).

ACT Policing has announced no criminal charges would be laid but revealed that allegations also involved another former staff member.

Ms Hawthorne dismissed the allegations against her and other staff.

"ACT Policing's last-ditch attempt to implicate a second staff member should be seen for what it is – a desperate act of distraction," she said.

"The truly unprecedented event of the past three months has been an elected minister losing her job because of unfounded allegations by an unelected official."

BRIEF BACKGROUND

In this ACT Supreme Court judgment, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union v Commissioner, Australian Federal Police [2015] ACTSC 362 (2 December 2015), the Australian Federal Police are found to have abused process:

140. The fact that a second or subsequent warrant might be an abuse of process does not go to the question of the validity of any such warrant, but only if it is shown that the second warrant is actually issued for an ulterior or improper purpose or otherwise constitutes an abuse of process.


141. In my view, it could not be said, in this case, that the issue of the second warrant was an abuse of process. No prejudice to the plaintiff was identified that was outside the contemplation of the construction of the relevant provisions.

Relief

266. As I have found the seizure under the second warrant to be invalid because of the failure to disclose fully the circumstances that were required to be disclosed for the issuing officer, the learned Magistrate, to make a proper decision about whether to issue a warrant that is able to be executed after 9.00 pm, I have not found that any of the other complaints invalidated the search or the warrants.

267. In relation to the material obtained under that warrant, the material must be returned or destroyed.

268. In relation to the breaches that I have found, I have been asked to make declarations of non-compliance with the relevant sections.
269. The question of whether I had power to make declarations was not subject to any challenge by the first defendant, other than as to discretion. This is not a case such as Kennedy v Baker where such an issue arose. There is, in this Court, plenary power to make such declarations and I do not need to consider the jurisdiction further.

270. As to discretion, the only basis on which it was urged that I should not make any declaration is that a failure to do so would still leave a court, which was required to deal with any criminal proceedings on which any seized material is sought to be admitted, and which retained jurisdiction under s 138 of the Evidence Act, to deal with any impropriety or illegality then.

271. I accept that a court will be appropriately able to protect an accused’s interests in any such criminal proceeding by such means; see Phong v Attorney-General for the Commonwealth [2001] FCA 1241; (2001) 114 FCR 75. It seems to me, however, inappropriate to deprive such a court of my findings following what was a detailed hearing with not only affidavit evidence but cross-examination and oral submissions.

272. In the circumstances, I am prepared to make the declarations.

273. It seems to me that the plaintiff has had sufficient success to justify an order for costs. I shall permit the parties to seek another order but otherwise so order.