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Excessive Political Force

EXPERIENCED NSW Police have had serious misgivings with the political forces behind what some see as the gratuitous show of strength in the “war” against terrorism.


My sources tell me several high-ranking officers were alarmed by the way in which the NSW force was mobilised to ram home the danger of “the enemy within.”


The fact remains only one charge resulted from the raids by more than 800 police in Sydney’s west. The intensity of the operation has been justified as “valuable” in terms of “intelligence gathering” – which in my experience is never more effective than when it’s covert.


Such an overt display of law enforcement muscle hardly seems consistent with time-honored investigative techniques.


Dare I say it, but am I alone in wondering whether the codename for the police operation “Hammerhead’ might be tempting fate? If, as we have been led to believe, there is a real and credible threat of a so called “lone wolf attack” let’s hope it’s not preceded by a visit to the hardware store before the offender randomly chooses a victim to make the most gruesome of ironic points. “Hammerhead” might sound aggressive and impressive but those who come up with these names should remember they are in the business of law enforcement and not creating sexy titles for reality television shows. This is not a time for life to be imitating art.


FOOTY FANS TARGETED


I will be watching closely to see if the current levels of paranoia and hysteria will manifest in the profiling of Muslim community members among Bulldogs fans tomorrow night at ANZ Stadium, now that Canterbury has sent Manly packing from the Premiership race.


We have already heard this week how two “suspicious looking Middle Eastern men” were needlessly targeted by police at the Roosters v Cowboys match last week, forcing them to miss the final 20 minutes of the semi-final.


If you visit places like the Bankstown Plaza in the heart of Bulldog territory you will see many Muslim fans wearing their Canterbury scarves and matching blue and white burqas. These young people are Bankstown born and bred, and have every right to enjoy their rugby league as much as the next law abiding citizen in what is supposed to be one of the world’s great model democracies. Given anxiety levels are running so feverishly high let’s hope those senior cops - more familiar with reality than rhetoric - will ensure common sense prevails in the security screening of our grandstands.


In the very same stadium in the Year 2000 Australia paraded its multicultural credentials to the world in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. If that celebration of ethnic diversity had any sincerity those citizens of Middle Eastern background should be spared any needless intimidation by the boys in blue.


JAIL BRAWL


I couldn’t help but wonder if the cramped quarters of the State’s overcrowded prison system had any role to play in unrest at Goulburn Jail this week. Guards were forced to use tear gas in subduing seven inmates before they were placed in isolation. Four of them had to be treated and correctional officers were verbally abused but uninjured in the disturbance.


DISORDERLY?


So it turns out our drunks are not so disorderly after all. I was interested to learn that of 33,580 directions issued to intoxicated people from October 2011 and September 2012 only 484 fines or charges issued for drunk and disorderly behaviour. That’s a very high level of compliance and makes one wonder whether there was in fact a need for these new powers, introduced by former premier Barry O’Farrell. Fines for disobeying a direction range from $200 to $1100, and the maximum court-imposed fine jumped from almost $1000 to $1650. According to Mr Barbour’s report police failed to issue clear guidelines on the use of the new powers, claiming it was “unnecessary”. I was disturbed to learn that 40 per cent of the fines were issued to members of the indigenous community, despite representing just 2.5% of the NSW community. Something doesn’t quite add up, and the Ombudsman suspected as much, expressing concern over the impact of the new powers on what he called “marginalised” sections of the community.


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"He's got a very good tactical mind and is good with strategy ... great advocacy and comes to grips with the evidence."

The Sunday Telegraph, 2013

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