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

Friday, 13 October 2017

File this one under 'Who's guarding the guards?'


The politicians forming Australian state and federal governments assure us they are upright, ethical people with histories as pure as the driven snow. They tell us their advisors are trustworthy beyond doubt and their senior public service appointees & finance/security consultants ditto. While their big business mates like Gina, Twiggy and Co are genuinely true blue and philanthropic.

Yet, as step by step these same politicians lead us towards authoritarian governance and Big Brother mass surveillance, their feet of clay can’t help but show.

North Coast Voices readers may remember that SMEC Holdings Limited (now SMEC and Surbana Juronghas been a favourite of Malcolm Turnbull's since he was the Minister for the Environment and Water Resouces in the Howard Government ministry.

This company provided an error-ridden desktop study for Turnbull supporting damming and diverting water from NSW North Coast river systems, with a preference for visiting this environmental vandalism on the Clarence River system.

It is now allegedly a corrupt multinational corpration.

The Age, 4 October 2017:

An arm of the company tasked with advising the Turnbull government on its signature infrastructure project, Snowy Hydro 2.0, has been banned by the World Bank for alleged bribery and corruption, prompting further calls for a federal anti-corruption watchdog……

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull poses for a photo during his announcement of Snowy Hydro 2.0 in March.
Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Engineering company SMEC had five of its subsidiaries banned by the World Bank last week after an investigation into "inappropriate payments" linked to projects in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. 

SMEC was chosen to undertake the $29 million feasibility study back in May and the work is due to be finished by the end of the year. The firm was selected by the state and federal government-owned Snowy Hydro corporation, which runs the current power plant.

Last year, Fairfax Media revealed the details of some of the allegations around improper payments involving SMEC, including allegedly corrupt dealings between the firm and Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena when he was a cabinet minister in 2009.

Those dealings and others are still under investigation by the federal police.

This is one wealthy individual audited by the Australian Taxation Office - venture capitalist and independent consultant to business & government for over twelve years, Anthony ‘Tony’ Castagna.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 October 2017:

Anthony Castagna's company helps protect the cyber secrets and detect financial crimes within the world's most powerful institutions, including the Serious Fraud Office in Britain, US Homeland Security, the Australian defence force, ASIC, even the Office of the President of the US.

Now the Sydney-based co-founder and chairman of Nuix, majority owned by Macquarie Bank, faces a potential 20-year jail term after being charged with tax evasion and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Dr Castagna, 70, has been the target of two of Nuix's major clients: the Australian Federal police and the Australian Tax Office through Project Wickenby, their long-running tax probe.

The charges relate to payments from Macquarie Bank which were allegedly channelled into offshore companies controlled by his cousin Robert Agius, who was sentenced to a non-parole period of 6 years and 8 months' jail in 2012 for operating unrelated tax avoidance schemes via his Vanuatu-based accountancy firm.

In addition to Dr Castagna's criminal charges, the ATO is pursuing him for unpaid taxes and penalties in excess of $10 million.

For decades, the tech guru has been a rainmaker for Macquarie Bank. The bank has ploughed millions of dollars into his cyber security and forensic services company Nuix. A totally owned Macquarie Group subsidiary owns more than 70 per cent of Nuix and over the last year Macquarie advisors have been talking up a billion-dollar float of Nuix on the Australian stock exchange....

Dr Castagna, who denies any wrongdoing and is vigorously defending the charges....

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

National ID Database: so you think if you do nothing wrong you'll have nothing to fear?


“There is also a tendency for technologies to converge, allowing for the creation of devices with increased surveillance capabilities. CCTV, for example, may be combined with facial recognition technology….to identify individuals from their images. Another example is modern mobile phones, which combine telephonic services with GPS tracking software, digital visual and sound recording capabilities, and connection to the internet. A consequence of the convergence of surveillance technologies is the greater ability of surveillance users to compile detailed pictures of members of the public, making it increasingly difficult for individuals to maintain their privacy and anonymity.” [Victorian Law Reform Commission – Surveillance in Public Places: Final Report 18, 2010]

This month the Turnbull Government, state and territory governments have agreed to add the photo IDs of all registered drivers to the Facial Biometric Matching Capability (FBMC) database (est. 16 November 2016) which already has access to passport photographs, visa application photos, airport surveillance images and arrest ID images from the criminal justice system.

Additional images will probably be harvested from social media and added to this database which is to be used with CCTV footage of the general population going about their daily lives when considered necessary by police and security services. The biometric 'map' of an individual's face created by FBMC being easily applied to searches of video footage from public venue, shopping centre, street and road cameras as CCTV technology is now capable of recognising faces of people, vehicles, animals and bags automatically.

FBMC will involve using a Face Verification Service , Face Identification Service, One Person One Licence Service and Facial Recognition Analysis Utility Service in identity matching, along with a the Document Verification Service, Identity Data Sharing Service and/or any other government identity matching or data sharing service and, of course one of the areas it will be used is in so-called crime prevention.

Use of this facial recognition database will also be available to authorised private sector agencies and, like many new tools it is likely there will be function creep so that photo IDs will be required by more government agencies and private businesses when interacting with individuals in the future.

The Facial Biometric Matching Capability database will function alongside the Biometric Identification Services (BIS) which features national identification capability using fingerprints, palm prints, foot prints and facial recognition, person identity and evidence image case management, image enhancement tools and record auditing, matching services of one to one, one to few, one to many, and many to many, as well as photobook, photo line-up and witness viewing services.

But what’s the worry? After all if you are an ordinary person not committing a crime you have nothing to fear. Right?

Well there is this on the horizon…………..


Criminologists at Monash undertake cutting edge research in the areas of risk and security that is theoretically sophisticated, innovative and highly relevant to areas of pressing national and international concern. The discipline hosts two recipients of the Australian government’s prestigious Future Fellowship Award, Professor Sharon Pickering and Associate Professor Weber, both undertaking programs of research on border policing. Their jointly authored book Globalization and Borders: Death at the Global Frontier was awarded Australia’s most significant criminology publication award in 2013. The Border Crossing Observatory is the online repository of all border-related research undertaken by Monash Criminology and our national and international partners. Criminologists at Monash have received multiple highly competitive Australian Research Council grants to investigate a host of risk and security related topics, amongst them, counter terrorism laws and policing, immigration and exploitive labour practices, deportation, regional security, and the gendered nature of border crossing and transnational law enforcement. Our risk and security research expertise includes the interrelated topics of borders, counter terrorism, state crime, transnational crime, irregular migration, human trafficking, risk and disability, and pre-crime. [my yellow bolding]

What is “pre-crime”?

Put simply, “pre-crime” activity is a crime not yet committed – it is the suspicion that an individual might be capable of breaking an unidentified law at some unspecified time in the future.

Such suspicion does not mean there is a need to charge, prosecute or convict for a specific crime. Intervention at “pre-crime” stage is supposedly risk containment.

You don’t have to be researching bomb-building or Googling how to buy a weapon online to commit a “pre-crime” activity - it can be your thoughts and political opinions spoken aloud or written down, as well as your actions at a public meeting or protest rally.

It can even be allegedly ‘guilty knowledge’ in that you knew the time and place a small environmental activist group was going to confront their local MP or you saw a person painting an anti-government picket sign ahead of a planned street march.

Going to the media – social or mainstream – with a genuine complaint against a government department might be considered a “pre-crime” if you visibly persist in seeking answers, redress or apology. You could easily be labelled "fixated" by police if a government minister takes offence and decides to complain.

If you make a small donation to a group the police or government consider problematic, troublesome or obstructive of the aims of government or big business you may at some time in the future be considered politically partisan and displaying “pre-crime” tendencies.

These are just some of the groups that are already complained about by big business and politicians: Environment Victoria, Wilderness Society (Australia, Victoria & Queensland), Friends of the Earth, Victorian National Parks Association, Australian Conservation Foundation, Lock the Gate Alliance, 350.org Australia, the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Australian Marine Conservation Society, Friends of the Earth Australia, Politics in the Pub and GetUp! as well as Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd.

Just belonging to a group or community association which speaks up on matters of social, economic, environmental or political concern could see you being eyed off as part of a potential conspiracy in the making.

In at least one Western country pre-crime can also manifest itself as a suspicion that you have come into a city centre with the intention of having a drink or two and you will be given a 48 hour direction-to-leave order.

With the notion of “pre-crime” there is no presumption of innocence and little more than lip service to due process if any arm of state or federal government decides you are a person of interest.

So how will pre-crime activity be monitored by police and security services? Well one of the methods used will be surveillance and this surveillance may involve use of the Facial Biometric Matching Capability database created by the Turnbull Government.

Surely this couldn’t possibly happen in Australia? you say. Think again. 

We already keep individuals in gaol long after their court-imposed sentence has been fully completed under continuing detention legislation, have preventative detention without charge and control orders which can be applied to both minors and adults, police are known to use spyware to enter, monitor and control home computers and, in certain circumstances your home can be entered and searched without your knowledge by police and security services.

And here in Australia we have a history of unwarranted surveillance based on an individual's political association (1950s Cold War era) and political dissent (1960s & early 1970s Viet Nam War era) as well as virtually unchallenged unlawful use of coercive powers (Border Force 2014 to 2017).

Police and security agencies are constantly pushing for more legislation which would allow amongst other matters the creation of a raft of pre-emptive, punitive measures based solely on suspicion and an individual’s “pre-crime” tendencies.

Right now in Australia governments are all about political and physical control of the population - they are not about human rights, 'civil liberties' or a free, open and democratic society.

As a society Australia has been sliding down that slippery slope towards an authoritarian destination for years now and in 2017 we appear to have reached the bottom of the slope.

“For years, there’s been ample evidence that authoritarian governments around the world are relying on technology produced by American, Canadian, and European companies to facilitate human rights abuses.  From software that enables the filtering and blocking of online content to tools that help governments spy on their citizens, many such companies are actively serving autocratic governments as "repression’s little helper."
The reach of these technologies is astonishingly broad: governments can listen in on cell phone calls, use voice recognition to scan mobile networks, read emails and text messages, censor web pages, track a citizen’s every movement using GPS, and can even change email contents while en route to a recipient. Some tools are installed using the same type of malicious malware and spyware used by online criminals to steal credit card and banking information. They can secretly turn on webcams built into personal laptops and microphones in cell phones not being used. And all of this information is filtered and organized on such a massive scale that it can be used to spy on every person in an entire country.” [Electronic Frontiers Foundation, accessed 7 October 2017]

“Australia’s leading privacy and civil liberties organisations condemn the decision by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to provide all images from state and territory driver’s licence databases to the federal National Facial Biometric Matching Capability.
The creation of such a comprehensive national facial database is an unnecessary and disproportionate invasion of the privacy rights of all Australians, is the foundation for suspicionless, warrantless mass surveillance and is fundamentally incompatible with a free and open society.

David Vaile, Chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation said, “This government has proven it is blind and deaf to privacy and personal information security threats. Make no mistake – this database will affect all Australians, even the most conscientious and law-abiding. It will likely generate massive ‘false positive’ lists that will flood our very effective police and security services with useless distractions. We’ve already seen calls for ‘scope creep’ to cover welfare enforcement, and there’s every reason to expect this capability will come to be used to identify people with unpaid fines and other minor issues that have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.” [Electronic Frontiers Australia, 6 October 2017]

“Every single portion of human rights activism overlaps, manifests or is exercised with the use of technology. That alone caused attackers and adversaries to recognize that technology itself is a good vehicle to get to these people and interfere with them or cause them harm.” [Claudio Guarnieri of Amnesty International quoted in Threat Post at Kapersky Lab, 4 October 2017]

Friday, 29 September 2017

Memo to Clarence Valley Council, NSW Police and Berejiklian Government: This is just not good enough


Sometime in the past a number of unrecorded burials occurred in the little coastal village of Iluka, NSW, est. population 1,728 people.

These historic burials were done with care and at least some were marked out by timber posts.

This is how much care Clarence Valley Council, NSW Police and the Berejiklian Coalition Government are displaying towards the newly discovered dead.

BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS OF FIRST UNKNOWN GRAVESITE IN ILUKA 

BEFORE: First unmarked gravesite where Ground Penetrating Radar confirmed one burial with a 9/10 chance it was human remains.

AFTER: First unmarked gravesite after desecration by police. Vegetation flattened and posts have disappeared leaving no trace of grave.

* Photographs taken by Iluka resident

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

In 1987 Australia the New South Wales state government exposed Donald J. Trump's "Mafia connections"



If the NSW Police Board in Australia knew of Donald J. Trump's "Mafia connections" (Confidential Minutes, p. 8,3. Police Board ii) in June 1987 it follows that so did the Atlanta Police Department, Georgia State Police, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and possibly Interpol - because NSW Police and/or the Australian Federal Police (AFP) would have likely approached one or all these sources when gathering intelligence. 

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."