Annual Report 2017-2018 OmbudsmanNT
Tabled paper 934
Tabled Papers for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
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62 There is provision for formal conciliation in the Ombudsman Act. Conciliation may only be undertaken by agreement between the parties. It is not intended to absolve police officers of any misconduct or action. The process is an alternative dispute resolution process which is directed at reducing the need for civil matters proceeding to the courts. In practice, matters that might be resolved by this process are often dealt with as CRPs. Investigations Both NT Police officers and Ombudsman officers have substantial powers to conduct investigations in relation to complaints about Police conduct. One question that may arise in the investigation of more serious Police complaint is whether to recommend that disciplinary action or, in some cases, criminal proceedings should be commenced against an officer. The criminal standard of proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, is higher than the level of satisfaction required to establish a breach of discipline, so different considerations apply when weighing the answers to these two questions. NT Police investigators have a power to direct an officer to answer a question or provide information in relation to an alleged or suspected breach of discipline even if to do so might incriminate the officer or make the officer liable to a penalty - section 79A of the Police Administration Act (the PAA). However, the answer to such a question or the information provided is not admissible as evidence against the officer in civil or criminal proceedings in a court (section 79A(3)). This can mean that information provided by an officer about their conduct that can be used for the purposes of a disciplinary proceeding is not available for the purposes of a criminal prosecution. If that information is central to establishing the case against an officer, this may mean that a breach of discipline can be established but there is no reasonable prospect of securing a criminal conviction. ISSUES AND OUTCOMES Police conduct issues may be identified in a complaint to NT Police or our Office, by PSC or the NT Police investigating officer or by staff of our Office. Analysis of Police conduct approaches to the Office in 2017/18 identified the following as the most common issues complained about: poor behaviour (includes failure to provide name or ID, harassment, abuse, non-violent threat, inappropriate treatment of a vulnerable person, rudeness and insensitivity); inadequate service; use of force; inadequate investigation (includes delay, failure to investigate, failure to prosecute, failure to deal with complaint); poor decision-making (includes unreasonable exercise of discretion, decision contrary to policy or procedure, failure to consult and failure to activate body worn camera); poor communication (includes failure to update or notify of decision, failure to utilise an interpreter, provision of inadequate or inaccurate information).