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Byron Shire
February 8, 2023

Policemen under investigation for intimidation

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A Mullumbimby mother has filed a complaint with the NSW Ombudsman, claiming two Tweed Byron LAC police officers harassed and intimidated her.

The Echo has been presented with a letter from the Ombudsman’s office saying the matter has been referred back to the police for an internal investigation. The letter also said the police are obliged to provide the Ombudsman’s office with the report at the end of the investigation.

It comes after similar reports to The Echo regarding the same officer, who has been on duty in the area for some months. The Echo has been informed that earlier this year, police were called to the woman’s property in Mullumbimby making a general inquiry concerning raised voices.

After an initial cordial exchange between the woman and the police officers, the woman claims she and her teenage son were cornered on their porch after she refused to sign a statement.

Behaved like a brute

The complaint by the woman claims that one policeman became aggressive and began shouting and at one point thumped his fist on a table against which she was leaning.

The statement says, ‘The policeman caused extreme insult and harm to both myself and my child and also the NSW Police Force’.

‘He has behaved like a brute towards an unarmed, non-aggressive woman in front of a child. On the woman’s own property. No warrant, no court order and no arrest.’

She also claims the other officer stood by watching, ‘with his hand on his taser.’

The incident happened around the same time that a woman in Logan, Qld, named Sheila Oakley, was tasered in the eyeball and blinded by a police officer who was also allegedly a taser instructor. According to the ABC, around 100 members of the Aboriginal community marched to the police station in solidarity – they demanded that police not carry tasers and be better trained.

Signing police reports

So are the public required to sign police reports?

Jackson Rogers from the NSW Council for Civil Liberties told The Echo that ‘generally speaking’ a person cannot ever be compelled by police to sign a document.

‘There may be some limited exceptions to this rule for very particular circumstances. For example, to collect one’s property after imprisonment (but that is putting a particular gloss on the definition of ‘compulsion’).

‘In this circumstance, it seems the complainant was definitely not required to sign the document, and that the officer in question overstepped the bounds of propriety, if not the law.

‘We would be willing to hear from her further if she does not get satisfaction through her local area command, the complaints assistance unit or the Ombudsman.’

Mr Rogers added that the comment provided ‘does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such’.

Those who experience harassment and intimidation by any member of the NSW Police Force can contact NSW Ombudsman on 1800 451 524 or www.ombo.nsw.gov.au. Be sure to note the name of the officer as well as details such as date and time. For more about your rights when dealing with the police, visit www.theshopfront.org/documents/Police_powers_and_your_rights_May_2012.pdf

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  1. Crikey, the police in Australia are very different from other western countries!

    A few years ago I was tailgated on a dark night between Lennox and Byron by a 4WD police car. That was pretty scary since I was in an old Holden – well past it’s prime. Since then I’ve been wary of police in Australia.

    I hope the lady in your article gets some justice! my thoughts go out to her and her son and all who are intimidated by those who choose to abuse their powers.

    Send the Aussie police to the UK for training 😉

  2. Quite right Mark, Having just been in the UK where the cops don’t even wear guns, except in high security areas, Downing Street etc, and are polite and respectful I have to agree, the police in OZ act like thugs and brutes and create fear rather then respect. Tazers must be banned. Good on the Mullum Mum for standing up for her rights and going to the Ombudsman. I have done it myself in the past. The police are meant to be Service not a Force.

  3. Beginning with the so called Rum Corps, NSW Police force has had a long and sad history of heavy handedness and corruption. The Ballina officers who appeared before the courts this week are just the latest example.
    These incidents reveal a cultural problem within NSW Police Force that has yet to be addressed despite numerous enquiries and findings over many years. It reveals weakness in command and control.
    We deserve better, and should demand better.
    Leaders within the NSW Police must be held accountable, there must be consequences, not just regretful public utterances. Senior offices, like the captain of a ship, must be held to account when these things happen. Police must be better trained and recruiting standards raised.
    Most importantly Australians need to have certain inalienable rights set in our constitution, after all we are the only so called democracy that does not have a “Bill of Rights” , for want of better words, clearly spelled out in our constitution, in order to protect the people from the excesses of government and it’s agents.
    I hope many will remember this when next there is a push for Australia to become a republic.

  4. tip-don’t complain to ombudsman or other internal channels that go directly to where you are complaining about, you will get run around in circles and get nowhere. MP, PIC and ICAC for serious complaints. This is a serious ongoing problem in the area.


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