Policing by numbers an abuse of public trust

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Information obtained by the Greens through Parliament has exposed the NSW Police Force doing “policing by numbers” with the use of powers to undertake invasive personal and strip searches being subject to KPIs and targets.

These “discretionary” police powers are supposed to be exercised in response to conditions on the ground, but the existence of targets for searches including strip searches clearly show this is not the case.

The Command Performance Accountability System (COMPASS) includes a number of “indicators” which have targets for Police Area Commands. This includes things where encouraging targets is potentially positive, such as Victim Follow-Up but also the exercise of oppressive police powers including personal searches and move on powers.

Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said: “This confirms what we have known for some time, many searches and strip searches have nothing to do with reasonable suspicion but have the main purpose of meeting arbitrary KPIs.

“To be subjected to a humiliating and traumatising strip search just so the local police can make up their numbers is a gross abuse of powers and likely unlawful.

“Because a strip search usually follows a personal search each strip search essentially counts twice towards police meeting their arbitrary targets.

“The increase in strip searches is extraordinary, rising from around 800 in the 12 months to 30 November 2006 up to 5,483 in the 12 months to 30 June 2018. “Having targets for the use of police powers like searches and move-on orders inevitably means these powers will be abused.

“People have always suspected that police had targets for speeding tickets and other offences, but this is the first time we have had solid confirmation they have targets to meet for invasive personal searches.

“We need the Commissioner and Minister to start being honest about why the number of searches has skyrocketed in the last few years, it’s all about making up the numbers not about making anyone safer,” Mr Shoebridge said.

Responses to Supplementary Questions in Budget Estimates:

Click to access Answers%20to%20supplementary%20questions%20-%20PC%205%20-%20Police%20and%20Emergency%20Services%20-%20Elliott.PDF

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