Territory Stories

Annual Report 2004-2005 Ombudsman 27th Report



Annual Report 2004-2005 Ombudsman 27th Report

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Tabled paper 283


Tabled papers for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT




Tabled By Claire Martin


Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.




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___________________________________________________________ Ombudsmans Annual Report 2004/05 67 After a while two paddy wagons came with about four uniformed Police officers. The complainant was allowed to go home and later went to the Hospital. The complainant alleged that he had concussion and was kept under observation for about nine hours. This complaint (that the off duty police officers should not have intervened or used force, and that the force was excessive) was investigated by the Professional Responsibility Command of the NT Police Force, on behalf of the Joint Review Committee. The PRC investigation found that two off-duty officers were nearby when they heard the girlfriends screams. They believed that a female was being assaulted, possibly sexually, and required immediate assistance. Another resident, as well as the girlfriends stepmother were also concerned enough to call for police attendance. The JRC was of the opinion that this assumption by the officers was reasonable in the circumstances. When the officers reached the park, they saw the complainant with his girlfriend in a headlock. The officers put themselves on duty and went to provide assistance. All police officers have sworn to uphold the law and are therefore obliged to take action in situations that warrant it. The JRC was of the view that the decision by the officers to place themselves on duty was an appropriate action on their part. The officers identified themselves as police officers at the earliest possible moment. There was no evidence that the complainant was under a misapprehension about this. The JRC noted that whilst the officers acknowledge that they had both consumed some beer in the preceding hours whilst off duty, there was no evidence that they were drunk or affected by alcohol to any extent. There is no evidence to suggest that their decision to intervene for the girlfriends safety was unreasonable. In regard to the use of force, it was clear that the complainant was grabbed by one of the officers, hit several times by the other and that he was forced to the ground by both officers. The JRC noted that section 27(e) of the Criminal Code Act states in order to prevent the commission of an offence, the application of force is justified provided it is not unnecessary force and it is not intended and is not such as is likely to cause death or grievous harm. The officers believed on reasonable grounds that the complainant was committing, or about to commit an offence. The JRC noted that the complainant was not arrested at the time, because the girlfriend did not want to lay a complaint at that time. The complainant was, however, later charged with assault. The JRC was therefore of the opinion that the officers were justified in using force to stop him. None of the uniformed Police that arrived at the scene later noticed any injuries to the complainant that were consistent with him having been assaulted for 5 to 10 minutes until nearly unconscious. The girlfriends stepmother saw no injuries on the complainant, but saw blood on his clothes (which was from the other officer who was hit by his colleague by mistake). The complainants father also saw no injuries on the complainant. The hospital medical report stated that the complainant sustained abrasions and soft tissue injuries and had symptoms consistent with concussion. The JRC concluded that there was insufficient evidence to sustain the complaint of excessive force.

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