Monday, January 16, 2006

Politically correct policing in Australia following riots?

Australia: NSW Opposition Leader, Peter Debnam accused the police of this.

THE NSW Police Commissioner is fuming over suggestions by the Opposition that he has been directed by the Government to "go softly on criminals of Middle Eastern background" responsible for revenge attacks after the Cronulla riots. Ken Moroney thumped a podium during a press conference yesterday, saying he was "personally and professionally offended" by the "outrageous slur" by the Opposition Leader, Peter Debnam. However, Mr Moroney did acknowledge that the investigation may be hindered due to a lack of evidence because people were too fearful to provide witness statements against those involved in the revenge attacks at Maroubra and Brighton following the December 11 riots. The Herald understands this includes a prominent criminal from south-west Sydney. Mr Debnam yesterday reiterated his comments made to the Herald on Thursday that Labor had gone soft on ethnic gangs to repay support from the Middle Eastern community. "The Labor Party seems indebted to certain ethnic groups and in this case Middle Eastern gangs," he said. "I can't believe that a month after these revenge attacks there have been no arrests." Mr Debnam offered no specific evidence that the Government had instructed police not to arrest certain criminals but said police were underresourced and failing to apprehend gangs. The acting Premier, John Watkins, said Mr Debnam should resign if he could not support the allegation. Mr Moroney said he would report any such evidence to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Police Integrity Commission or the Ombudsman. "Let me make abundantly clear, no such direction, advice or comment has been provided to me at any time," he said. He said police "go about their duties irrespective of the race, ethnicity, culture, creed or gender of a person". Mr Moroney said police would offer witness protection to anyone too afraid to give the crucial evidence in prosecuting these cases. The revenge attacks, unlike the Cronulla riots, which took place in full view of media cameras, presented more difficulties, he said. The row over post-Cronulla arrests erupted after Detective Superintendent Dennis Bray told radio this week that there had been no arrests over revenge attacks on property and people on subsequent nights by gangs.
The Daily Telegraph agreed,
POLICE Commissioner Ken Moroney has taken strong offence at Opposition Leader Peter Debnam's suggestion police have been directed by the State Government to go soft on criminals of Middle Eastern background. Unfortunately, the available evidence strongly suggests Mr Debnam is correct. Mr Moroney claims Mr Debnam's remarks are a slur on him and all police officers. The commissioner is ignoring the reality that numerous officers have complained there has been a reticence on the part of the Government and senior police to instruct those in the field to confront persistent troublemakers. Mr Debnam's claims followed his release of statistics which clearly demonstrate the majority of charges laid in the wake of the Cronulla riot related only to the events at Cronulla on December 11 and not the reprisal attacks the following four nights. Mr Moroney should know his police were miserably ill-prepared to deal with the Cronulla situation - even though they had plenty of advance warning. Just as the police were made aware a convoy of miscreants was heading out from Premier Morris Iemma's Lakemba electorate intent on wreaking havoc that same evening, but inexplicably failed to head it off.
Peter Debnam doesn't let up.
THE State Opposition Leader, Peter Debnam, has ratcheted up the summer riots debate, saying there are not enough Middle Eastern people in jail and that the Government should "lock up 200 Middle Eastern thugs" responsible for revenge attacks after the Cronulla riots. Mr Debnam's claims came after the Premier, Morris Iemma, accused the Opposition Leader of trying to play the race card to divert attention from problems in his own party. Mr Iemma also predicted that Mr Debnam would not make the 2007 election as the Liberal leader "the way things are going". "This is a bloke who will say anything just to get a headline and that is because he is a leader under siege in a party at war," Mr Iemma said. Mr Debnam repeated claims from last week about Labor being "soft on ethnic crime", this time blaming a Labor policy of political correctness. His claims last week originally came after it was revealed police had failed to make a single arrest over revenge attacks after the Cronulla riots that occurred on subsequent nights in Maroubra and Cronulla. Police are blaming a lack of evidence for their inability to arrest members of those gangs who damaged hundreds of cars in the beachside suburbs. When asked yesterday to admit that there was actually a large number of people of Middle Eastern background in prisons, Mr Debnam said: "Not enough. There's 200 thugs on the streets of Sydney who should be in jail, that's the issue. I'm saying to the Government 'get in their face, get 'em arrested, get 'em locked up'." Mr Debnam said Labor was "politically correct in everything they do, in their justice policy, in their policing policy, in their education policy …" "That political correctness means that criminals and thugs aren't locked up."
Surprisingly, the deputy police commish gives more evidence the police were not doing their jobs.
Speaking alongside Mr Iemma yesterday, the Deputy Police Commissioner, Terry Collins, admitted that police had been fearful of gangs in Sydney's west. "Over the years, police certainly have [been fearful]," Mr Collins said. But he said strike forces such as Taskforce Gain, which had made more than 1000 arrests, had been set up to deal with such gangs, and that the problem of Middle Eastern gangs was "not anything new, it's been going for years". "The notion that we don't target gangs, I think, is a bit of a nonsense I've heard other people talk about," Mr Collins said. Mr Iemma accused the Opposition Leader of undermining police. He said the "difference between Peter Debnam and myself [is] I'm on the side of the cops, he's not". "No wonder … the hooligans and thugs have got no respect, no wonder when the example is set by the Leader of the Opposition," he said. Mr Iemma foreshadowed further measures to deal with the aftermath of the summer riots. These are understood to include a possible increase in riot squad numbers from 50 to 200. He also spoke about "social and educational" measures, which would be announced. Mr Iemma said the Government's message to police was to "bring to justice those who want to engage in criminal behaviour … regardless of their ethnicity". The vice-president of the Lebanese Muslims Association, Samier Dandan, condemned Mr Debnam yesterday, saying: "We feel absolutely disgusted by his comments." Peter Remfrey, a Police Association secretary, defended the actions of police so far. "It's easy for people to say 'Go out and lock them up', but you have got to have evidence," Mr Remfrey said. THE STORY SO FAR Last Tuesday Detective Superintendent Dennis Bray admits that there have been 16 arrests over the Cronulla riots on December 11 but none over retaliatory attacks in the days that followed. Thursday Peter Debnam tells the Herald that Labor is "soft on ethnic crime" and links that to the failure to make arrests. Friday The Police Commissioner, Ken Moroney, calls the Debnam allegations an "outrageous slur". Yesterday Mr Debnam makes further claims, and the Premier, Morris Iemma, accuses him of playing the "race card".

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