Sunday, June 20, 2010

Crime and Misconduct Commission chairman Martin Moynihan says Police Commissioner must 'step up'

CRIME and Misconduct Commission chairman Martin Moynihan has announced he will start a wide-reaching probe into how police investigate each other. In an exclusive interview Mr Moynihan yesterday dramatically raised the stakes in the debate that has raged this week over a "self-protecting" police culture under Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson.

Mr Moynihan said the CMC would look at stopping police accused of wrongdoing from being investigated by police from the same station or "establishment", after public complaints about the process. "You can see why that is a matter of concern," Mr Moynihan said, acknowledging lack of public confidence was a "big problem". "You can see why people might not have full trust."

Mr Moynihan said the CMC now needed to "bore down" in an overall review of how the system of investigation of police was working.

He said he was angry that decent police officers who were doing their duty were "besmirched" by a culture of police not acknowledging wrongdoing. "The Commissioner needs to step up and do his job and not be looking for other people he thinks might be able to do something. He's got to do it."

He said it was very disappointing the Commissioner did not at first see a problem in the way original police investigators ran the Palm Island probe into the death of Cameron Doomadgee, known as Mulrunji. "It's not very reassuring that he (Mr Atkinson) has really appreciated that considerations have arisen that there is this culture that says that you don't acknowledge that anything has gone wrong. "There is a culture that there is no effective supervision from the top down so that people can depart from standards and it has no consequence for them."

He said the police failure to face up to consequences of their actions and failures in the system could be fixed with effective supervision, which was not at present happening. "It has to start at the top and come down," he said. "You can't ask constables on the beat to set the standards ... they have to know if they do the wrong thing something will be done about it."

Mr Moynihan said there was nothing to stop the Commissioner reporting within 14 days on the course of action intended to be taken regarding disciplinary action against police involved in Palm Island investigations. He said the Commissioner could delegate a senior officer to consider it and implement the CMC recommendations - even an officer from another police service - or let the matter go to a tribunal.

Mr Moynihan said he would only consider an extension of time if the Commissioner gave a justifiable reason. "It would have to be a genuine compelling story because he's been across this or had staff across this for a long time," he said.

Mr Moynihan said he felt he could continue to work with Mr Atkinson as police commissioner. "My job is to have a proper relationship with whoever is police commissioner," Mr Moynihan said.

The state Opposition yesterday called for Mr Atkinson's reappointment as police commissioner to be frozen and for the position to be advertised, according to Fitzgerald report recommendations.


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