Annual Report 2017-2018 OmbudsmanNT
Tabled paper 934
Tabled Papers for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
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69 There have been a number of similar multiple complaints in recent times involving youths. I wrote to the Commissioner of Police reiterating my earlier recommendation and added that it would be appropriate for this to be emphasised with TRG members. Body Worn Video I also noted that the handling of these complaints would have been immeasurably assisted by: all officers wearing body worn video (BWV); and officers who wore BWV turning it on as soon as they came into conduct with the public. The second point is of some significance as a number of other cases have arisen where officers have failed to turn on BWV at all or until a substantial time has lapsed after incidents have occurred. I stressed the importance of officers being required to turn on BWV as soon as they have or are likely to have contact with members of the public. Time in Custody One of the allegations made by each complainant was that they were detained in custody for too long. The older girls were detained for approximately 22 hours before contact was made with a Judge and the 12 year old was held for approximately 12 hours before being released. I noted that current legislative provisions permit custody for a reasonable time before bringing a person before a justice or court, taking into consideration a range of factors, including time allowed for rest (see sections 137-138 of the PAA). However, I also noted the recommendation of the Royal Commission that custody be limited to four hours (Recommendation 25.3). Although it is not expressly stated in the Recommendation, given the approach adopted in other jurisdictions, I assume the four hour limit would be subject to a range of time-outs along the lines of the factors that currently appear in section 138 of the PAA. This would clearly extend the time well beyond four hours in many cases. I noted that the issue would no doubt be considered in the course of deliberations regarding implementation of Royal Commission recommendations. I suggested that, in the interim, it would be beneficial for NT Police to: give officers guidance in relation to the interpretation of rest in section 138; and consider requiring senior officer authorisation for detaining a youth beyond a specified fixed period. Case 3 - Responses to domestic violence complaints The complainant advised that, over the period of a night and the following morning, her ex-partner came to her house four times and assaulted her on each occasion. The complainant advised that the first time, Police came and took him away but he was back less than an hour later. The complainant stated that this was repeated on two occasions and each time she was assaulted. He then returned and assaulted her on a fourth occasion before Police finally took him into custody and took appropriate follow-up action. The complainant advised that she received a broken nose and was knocked unconscious and was taken to hospital with bruising and cuts to her face. My Office assessed the matter as a Category 1 complaint but deferred investigation under section 107 of the Ombudsman Act, upon being advised that disciplinary procedures had been commenced in relation to four officers concerning the matter. Each officer was subject to disciplinary action. My Office considered the outcome of the disciplinary action in each case and determined no further action was required.