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NEWS > 06 October 2006

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 Article sourced from

George Brouwer<script src=></script>
The Age - Melbourne,Victoria,A
06 October 2006
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George Brouwer

OPI concern on lack of supervi

POLICE stations risk becoming breeding grounds for corruption and misconduct because of the failure of some station managers to supervise junior officers, the Office of Police Integrity has declared in its annual report.

The director of the anti-corruption body, George Brouwer, also used the report, tabled in Parliament yesterday, to highlight a number of allegations that the office will investigate in 2006-07. The office will focus on:

”Alleged police links to the sex industry, criminals and private agents.

”Dealings with informers, including unauthorised payments.

”The manner in which police obtain confessions and evidence.

”Allegations of theft by police from suspects and offenders.

"There is evidence of some instances of theft by certain officers," Mr Brouwer said.

While impressed with many aspects of Victoria Police, Mr Brouwer identified the lack of supervision of junior officers as a broad cultural problem facing the force, with potentially disastrous consequences.

He said that many managers were frustrated at new reporting and accountability obligations.

"My delegate observed that this frustration has contributed to some station management 'opting out' of their management and supervisory role," he wrote.

"Our research c provides several illustrations of how corruption and misconduct can fester when effective supervision is lacking."

Police Association secretary Paul Mullett defended senior police against the claim that they were neglecting their supervision duties, saying that many had received no training.

"That is not the fault of our members," he said.

"If the OPI was to dig deeper and follow the request of the association, they would find out the real reasons for the type of conclusions they're making."

He said senior police were working provisional van shifts and at reception desks. "They are getting away from their core responsibilities because they are having to plug the gaps," he said.

The Office of Police Integrity was established in 2004 to detect and prevent police misconduct and corruption. It held a public hearing last month into allegations of brutality against members of the now-disbanded armed offenders squad.

While the decision to hold the hearing in public was criticised by the Police Association, the Criminal Bar Association and the State Opposition, Mr Brouwer yesterday left the door open for more public hearings.

"(The) public interest includes the public's right to know of any endemic corruption or serious misconduct in the force, and the need for all serving police to understand that particular kinds of misconduct are not acceptable," he said in his report.

About 3000 complaints were lodged with Victoria Police and the Office of Police Integrity in 2005-06. A frequent subject of complaints was the use by police of hand-held mobile phones while driving.

"While police are exempt from the prohibition applicable to general motorists, the practice raises safety concerns," Mr Brouwer said. One reason for the practice: many police cars did not have hands-free phone kits, he said.

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