Thursday, October 23, 2008

Illegal search warrants used by Queensland police?

Nothing about the Queensland police would surprise me

SENIOR Gold Coast police are at the centre of a corruption probe for allegedly using illegal search warrants to raid innocent people's homes. Police have launched an internal investigation into the claims, aired last night by Seven News. Self-styled whistleblower detectives told the station that Gold Coast police made up evidence for the warrants and the raids were used to enhance the careers of senior management. Senior police have rejected the allegations as "a load of rubbish", saying they were made by disgruntled officers including one who was stood down after being charged with criminal offences.

However, some detectives called for an independent judicial inquiry, claiming both the police and the Crime Misconduct Commission have failed to investigate numerous complaints about allegedly "dodgy" warrants. One detective said illegal warrants had been used in hundreds of raids for at least the past five years in a practice openly encouraged by senior management. "This is a major corruption scandal," he said. "Specific evidence is required for a search warrant application but on many occasions on the Gold Coast . . . that information is simply made up. It's unlawful and it's unethical."

The detective said police drove around carparks to pick up random licence plate numbers to use on search warrant applications, or the evidence was just invented. He said the use of illegal warrants was prolific and done hundreds of times as police management used the raid to improve their career prospects. "It is done for the purpose of arrest figures and obtaining numbers of search warrants," he said.

The detective said that on one occasion he had been sent to raid the home of an innocent, elderly couple who were terrified by the experience. A police spokesman said the allegations were "nebulous".


Monday, July 28, 2008

Schwarto and Queensland police indifference to car theft

Rob Schwarten is a long-standing Labor party member of the Queensland parliament who has served in various ministries. He has a reputation for being aggressive -- even physically intimidating. So I was amused to receive from him a letter that was typically Schwarto -- a sort of verbal punch. Before I show you the letter, however, I need to tell you what led up to it:

In a nutshell: My car was stolen and the Queensland police showed not the slightest interest in apprehending the thief or thieves, despite the ID of one of them being handed to them on a plate.

More detail: Someone reported my abandoned car to the Redcliffe police about a week after it was stolen; the Redcliffe police checked their reports of stolen cars and notified me accordingly.

When I got the car back, most of the contents that I had in it were missing. This bothered me greatly as some of the contents were of considerable value to me. On checking through what remained, however, I found a library card belonging to someone I had never heard of. It was for a library in the Redcliffe area. It seemed clear to me that one of the thieves had inadvertently dropped it while they were in the car. Eureka! Just trace the person and I might get my stuff back!

So I took the card to my nearest cop-shop -- at Dutton Park. I was greeted at the counter by a dickless Tracy by the name of Turgeon. I told her my story, she listened and said she would look into it. I had no sooner stepped outside the building before I realized however that she had not taken a single note or asked for any details, let alone fill out a proper report.

I went back in and urged details upon her -- registration number, dates etc. She grabbed a torn-off scrap of paper and jotted a few things down. That was it. I left in great doubt about whether I had been taken seriously.

So I followed the matter up in the following weeks and months. In the course of that I was told two things by various police persons:

1). The card could have been dropped by anyone so was no proof of anything. Police logic, I presume. They seemed to think that I might have been driving around with people unknown to me in my car.

2). The person on the card had been checked and found to have no "form" (no criminal record) so there was no point in pursuing them. More police logic. How one ever gets form in the first place under those circumstances was never expained.

I was of course not remotely impressed by those pearls of wisdom but they came from more than one police officer, including a rather senior one. It stood out like dog's balls that the Queensland police were not remotely interested in catching car thieves -- unless of course you could catch them at the end of an exciting high-speed chase. No wonder Queensland has the highest rate of car theft in Australia. If you don't catch the baddies they will continue doing it.

So I started writing to the politicians in order to get some action. I got some very ill-considered replies from them too but it emerged that by that time the ID card had been "lost" and they could not therefore investigate the matter even if they wanted to.

That was quite appalling. There are of course strict police rules about the recording and preservation of material evidence and those regulations had obviously been ignored. It's not much of a guess to conclude that the Virgin Turgeon threw it straight into the bin, in fact.

I asked for disciplinary measures to be taken and Inspector Volk of Dutton Pk. station assured me that they had. For all I know that was just hot air, however. Clearly, Constable Turgeon had simply been following informal police rules.

I was rather stumped at that point but eventually made what was probably the only move left to me: Sue for compensation for my loss of car contents. I accordingly wrote to the Minister in charge of police with a claim for $500 in compensation for the loss of car contents that police negligence had prevented me from recovering. I got the usual ill-considered reply -- presumably written by a junior ministerial assistant. So I wrote again to point that out.

It was then that I got my amusing letter from Schwarto:
Judy Spence MP
Member for Mount Gravatt

Office of the
Minister for Police and
Corrective Services

Ref: 5627 F6 GM

23 May, 2008

Dear Dr Ray

Thank you for your further letter of 19 March 2008 concerning your dealings with police regarding the theft of your motor vehicle and property stolen from the vehicle.

I note you have received several replies from the Honourable Judy Spence MP since 2006 regarding associated issues.

While I have noted your further comments, as the Acting Minister for Police I am unable to intervene in any particular police investigation or operational decision, or interfere in the Police Service's handling of any particular complaint against its officers.

In the circumstances, your correspondence has been forwarded to the Police Service for consideration and you should take up direct with the Service on any further issues of concern.

Neither Ms Spence nor I am can assist you further in this matter and therefore do not intend corresponding with you in future on this issue.

Yours sincerely
Robert Schwarten MP
Acting Minister for Police, Corrective Services and Sport

He appears to think he can shut me up!

No further correspondence from the Police Service has arrived in the two months since Schwarto wrote so I suppose that an action against the Constable in the Small Claims tribunal will have to be my next step.

I have put most of the prior letters I wrote on this matter up below. You will see there that I even wrote to the body that is supposed to act on complaints against the police but that they simply referred the complaint back to the police -- as they usually do.

What I would most like to see at this stage is a public enquiry resulting in visible disciplinary action against the police officers primarily responsible for the unofficial policy of not investigating car stealing.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Letter to Ms Judy Spence, Minister for Police

Dear Ms Spence,

Your enclosed letter of 12th appears to have been hastily prepared by an adviser. What it says reflects initial police advice to you but the police subsequently admitted that the advice was wrong.

The police subsequently admitted that constable Turgeon LOST the ID card shortly after I handed it to her and also lost all the information on it -- so could not proceed with the matter in any way -- let alone draw conclusions about the owner of the card.

So the situation still stands that police negligence has made it impossible for me or anyone else to recover my stolen possessions -- despite there being a good initial chance of my doing so.

Please reopen my compensation request. I would be reluctant to initiate court action against the constable.

Yours faithfully,

Dr John Ray