Monday, October 13, 2014

Six SA Police officers to be charged following investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption

SIX SA police officers, including a sergeant, have been arrested and will be charged with abuse of public office and with allegedly stealing items including booze, tools and electrical goods in new Independent Commission Against Corruption’s first bust since being set up last year. 
ICAC Commissioner Bruce Lander and Police Commissioner Gary Burns today revealed the arrest of the six plain clothes officers.

The six arrested officers are part of a seven-person Operation Mantle drug squad that operates from the Sturt Police Station.

They include a sergeant, senior constables and constables.

PROBE: Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander (left) with Police Commis
PROBE: Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander (left) with Police Commissioner Gary Burns. Picture: Mike BURTON
■A 53-year-old man from Darlington has been charged with abuse of public office and aggravated theft.

■A 43-year-old man from Aberfoyle Park has been charged with two counts of abuse of public office, two counts of theft, and property damage.

■A 38-year-old man from Woodcroft has been charged with two counts of abuse of public office, two counts of aggravated theft and property damage.

■A 33-year-old man from Camden Park has been charged with abuse of public office and aggravated theft.

■A 31-year-old woman from Sellicks Beach has been charged with abuse of public office, aggravated theft and property damage.

■A 27-year-old woman from Woodcroft has been charged with abuse of public office and aggravated theft.
All six charged police officers have been bailed to appear at the Adelaide Magistrates Court on 19 December 2014.

Mr Burns said the allegations were first raised with police earlier this year and the ICAC was alerted, as demanded by legislation.

Mr Lander, a former Federal Court judge, then elected to head up the investigation in a joint operation with SA Police’s own Anti-Corruption Branch.

The arrests were made this morning after a six-month investigation.

Mr Lander said the officers had “let down” the force and he was impressed by the professionalism of the ACB police he worked with on the investigation.

“The ICAC Act provides for that, that I should oversee any investigation and I should head it if I elect to do so, which I did,” he said.

“I thought it appropriate that somebody independent of SAPOL head the investigation because of the allegations that have been made.”

Mr Lander said the arrests would still have been made, even if the ICAC were not established.

“I’m satisfied with the integrity of the Anti-Corruption Branch and I think they would have still carried out the investigation even if I had not been occupying the position I did,” he said.

“I was disappointed to hear of the allegations. I was disappointed when the evidence was obtained.

“SAPOL has shown a real energy in trying to identify the conduct, identify the culture, and to deal with it. “I think even without ICAC this investigation would have taken place.”

Mr Burns admitted the revelations threatened to damage public confidence in the force.

However, he said there was no evidence criminality had occurred at other stations.

“These arrests resulted from an operation that commenced earlier this year when information came to the SA Police that there were irregularities in the way that the Sturt Mantle team was operating,” Mr Burns said.

“From that point, the Anti-Corruption Branch became involved.

“Over this time, the Sturt Mantle team were investigated and (that) culminates in the arrests, with six being arrested for theft of property and abuse of public office.

“These members will be duly charged.”

He said the Sturt Mantle team focused on “low-level drug dealing (and) street offending”.

“There’s no indication of any drugs being stolen,” Mr Burns said. “It’s mainly in the lower-category items. Liquor, tools, some electronics, those type of things.”

A deeper probe of the Sturt Mantle team would now be conducted, he said.

“Six of the seven have been arrested and obviously we’ll be, as part of the ongoing investigations, interviewing the other officer involved,” Mr Burns said.

“The arrests today don’t finalise the investigation. This investigation will be ongoing.

“This is disappointing. The allegations are very disappointing.”

However, he insisted the vast majority of SA Police officers were honourable.

“It shouldn’t be seen as a reflection on the other 4500 police officers who go out and do their work on a daily basis to the best of their ability,” Mr Burns said.

“This is isolated to a small group of people.

“As part of our investigations going forward, we’ll be looking at what opportunities they had that formed this little subculture.”

The group was not believed to be onselling the allegedly stolen property.

“Obviously every police officer in South Australia, police will be concerned about this because we work on reputation and we need public confidence and public support,” Mr Burns said.

“Any matter like this, where police officers are involved in criminality will always have an impact.”

The officers have been suspended pending court proceedings.

Mr Lander was appointed the inaugural head of SA’s ICAC in September last year.

Mr Lander has previously revealed to The Advertiser he has referred one matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions for action but had not publicly disclosed the nature of the allegations.

Under law, Mr Lander is permitted to make public statements on his own discretion.

He has not previously exercised that right to hold a general press conference.

Last month, Mr Lander told The Advertisera middle-ranking public servant was the first person he had referred to the DPP and that several other referrals were likely in the following weeks.

He said that case related to the “conduct of a senior person in public administration’’.

“We have had some serious matters reported that are still under investigation, a couple of which are taking up a significant part of our resources, both in the number of personnel involved and the cost of the investigation,’’ Mr Lander said.

“We have had to put on some part-time people to assist, former police officers who are taking statements in one very serious matter.’’

Of more than 900 complaints and reports made in the first year of the ICAC’s operation, less than 60 were under investigation for corruption-related offences after being assessed. 13 Oct 2014

Only a small portion of corrupt police caught out.

Unfortunately not enough is done to weed out the corrupt cops.

Information has been obtained anonymously by CorpAu that police in Melbourne's western and northern suburbs are involved in drug related crimes including theft of property to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars per incident.

Police are supposed to protect the community, but instead are thugs, assailants and thieves threatening those who wish to expose their criminal activities with violence to them and their families.

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