Annual Report 2017-2018 OmbudsmanNT
Tabled paper 934
Tabled Papers for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
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68 Ultimately, Officer A was subject to action, although not under the process I would have recommended. In addition to the disposal of the specific matter, I made three general recommendations: 1) NT Police review its current General Orders and policies to ensure that adequate guidance is given to NT Police officers in relation to the care necessary when driving police vehicles in all situations. 2) NT Police produce substantial written guidance to decision makers to assist them in determining which option to recommend or pursue when considering action in relation to the conduct of an individual officer. 3) NT Police produce substantial written guidance to decision makers to assist them in determining which sanction (if any) to recommend or impose in relation to the conduct of an individual officer. I am continuing to liaise with NT Police in relation to the full implementation of those recommendations. Case 2 - Apprehension of three female youths Use of force Territory Response Group (TRG) members apprehended three girls (two aged 15 and one aged 12) who were the only occupants of a stolen vehicle. The vehicle stopped in front of an activated Tyre Deflation Device and reversed over a kerb and into a light pole with some force, causing the pole to fall over. Each child was then forcibly removed from the vehicle. Each child showed clear signs of injury to the face/head from the incident. There were numerous allegations of excessive use of force against each girl, including punches to the face of one girl and another girl being dropped on her head and blacking out. The versions of events provided by the girls and the police involved varied in material aspects. There was no body worn camera footage of the events. When this was combined with the motor vehicle accident and the fact that a number of different police were involved at different stages of the process, it made a positive finding that any particular officer or indeed any officer had used excessive force problematic. This led to a number of findings that allegations were Unresolved. However, on any version of events, it is clear that substantial force was used in extricating the girls from the vehicle and their treatment after this. While findings were not made against individual officers, these cases squarely raise issues I have previously raised concerning treatment of children. In a case relating to use of capsicum spray on a child (see pages 54-55 of my 2016/17 Annual Report) I recommended that NT Police: Take action to emphasise to officers the importance of recognising and acting on the fact that, in exercising their duty of care to children, and particularly young children, their needs and circumstances may differ appreciably from adults and there will frequently be times when a different approach is required to meet those circumstances. In this case, there was an added element that the police involved were from the TRG and are trained to respond to the most serious and challenging of incidents and offenders. Nevertheless, it is important that the response of every officer is proportionate to the circumstances in which they are operating.
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