Saturday, January 16, 2016

Criminal prosecutions against South Australian police are at a record high

Criminal prosecutions against police are at a record high and the number of complaints and breaches of code of conduct has risen 30 per cent over the past year.
CRIMINAL prosecutions against police are at a record high and the number of complaints and breaches of code of conduct has risen 30 per cent over the past year.

SA Police annual reports show the number of sworn officers or public servants within the department facing criminal prosecutions has risen from seven in 2001-02 to 31 in 2014-15.

The 2014-15 annual report also shows complaints against police, breaches of the code of conduct and criminal offences prosecuted against employees rose from 69 in 2013-14 to 90 in 2014-15.

Criminal cases range from theft offences to more serious cases, including suspended SA Police officer Hayley May Greenwood who was charged after an Independent Commissioner Against Corruption investigation with abuse of public office, drug trafficking and aggravated theft.

Eight SA Police officers from the Sturt Local Service Area were arrested in October 2014 and charged with theft offences, also following an ICAC investigation.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Human Resource Service John Bruhn said that higher expectations of officers and a growing workforce could be contributing factors to the spike in criminal prosecutions and breaches of the code.
“There are variances in statistics over many years — you mention from 2002 where complaints against police appeared low compared to higher now,” he said.

“This may range from increased levels of reporting, fluctuations in the workforce, broader expectations and other vagaries.
State of prosecution against SA police
“Policing is one of the most highly accountable professions — even off duty officers must maintain demanding standards of integrity and conduct.

“Any breaches have always and will continue to be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted as required.”
The rise in numbers of prosecutions and complaints against police follows the introduction of the South Australian Independent Commission Against Corruption in 2013, which The Advertiser revealed spent $45,420 on six telecommunications intercept warrants during probes for bribery and corruption offences in the first financial year of operation.

Police Minister Tony Piccolo said South Australia has one of the best police forces in the country.
“In the last financial year, there was a drop in the total amount of complaints received and SAPOL enjoys a ranking higher than the national average for general satisfaction from the public,” he said.

“Disciplinary matters are an issue for the commissioner of the day ... if any member of the community acts in an inappropriate way, they will face appropriate consequences and this does not exclude police officers.”

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