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 68 6. A Sobering Thought The complainant was waiting at the traffic lights to cross a major street when a police van pulled up and two officers got out. One of the officers caught hold of the complainants arms and told her to get into the back of the van because she was drunk. The complainant told the police officers that she did not drink and therefore was not drunk, however they refused to listen and allegedly manhandled the complainant into the back of the van. A friend of the complainant confirmed that she did not drink but he was allegedly told to shut up or he would be put into the paddy wagon as well. The complainant stated that she was taken in the paddy wagon to the watchhouse. She again told the police officers involved that she was not drunk as she does not drink alcohol. The officers would not listen to her and put her in the cells with a number of other persons where she was locked up for a number of hours prior to being released. The complainant advised that she did not drink alcohol and had not done so for approximately four years. The complainant at the time had acquired brain injury as a result of alcohol abuse in the past, had an unsteady gait as a result of a major knee operation, also approximately four years ago and was blind in one eye. The complainant assumed that the police offices involved were under the mistaken belief that she was affected by alcohol due to her unsteady gait and also the fact that she had some slurring of speech due to her brain injury. A detailed investigation of the issues of complaint was conducted by the Professional Responsibility Command of the Northern Territory Police on behalf of the Ombudsman, under the supervision of the Joint Review Committee (JRC). The JRC found that there was insufficient evidence to substantiate the complaints, but recommended that one of the police officers receive managerial guidance as to her responsibility to bring the issue to the attention of the Watch Commander where there is any doubt about a persons intoxication. The JRC findings were subsequently reviewed by the Ombudsman at the complainants request. The Ombudsman found that as the complainant was clearly of the view that she was not drunk and had told the police officers this on a number of occasions, she had every reason to question why she was being apprehended. The police officer should have left the complainant in no doubt as to why she was being apprehended and not just assumed that it was obvious to her. It was recommended that the police officer receive managerial guidance to this effect. The Ombudsman also found that the Watch Commander should have been asked to reassess the complainant to consider whether she was intoxicated. The Ombudsman also pointed out that Section 133 of the Police Administration Act was not brought to the complainants attention so that she could decide whether she might apply to a magistrate for her release. It was recommended to the Commissioner that this issue be clarified in the Police Custody Manual.

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