Annual Report 2004-2005 Ombudsman 27th Report
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.
_________________________________________________________ Ombudsmans Annual Report 2004/05 70 The investigation of this serious complaint was initially limited due to the inability of police to locate the complainant or her relative. Several attempts were made to locate them without success and once they were finally located and interviewed, almost seven months had elapsed since the incident. Due to the length of time since the event, neither the complainant nor her relative could remember many details of the incident and said they would not be able to identify the officers involved. The investigation revealed that there was no evidence to prove or disprove the allegation. As a result of the difficulties experienced in locating the complainant in this case, and similar difficulties in other investigations, a recommendation was made that a meeting be arranged between senior representatives from Police and Aboriginal Legal Services. The purpose of these meetings was to discuss strategies that might be implemented to address the difficulties experienced locating complainants who have no regular place of abode. A meeting was held at the Ombudsmans office with representatives from two Aboriginal Legal Services and a representative from Police. Various options were discussed and some agreement reached in regard to providing a very comprehensive initial letter of complaint and complainant contact details where appropriate and possible. 9. Love thy Neighbour This complaint against police arose as the result of an ongoing dispute between neighbours that came to a head during an incident which involved verbal abuse and threats of violence. Police attended and the complainant alleged that he was arrested without reasonable basis, that police acted unlawfully and improperly in threatening to arrest everyone in the complainants household and take the children to welfare, and that police failed to investigate the complainants allegation that the neighbour had threatened his life and had therefore committed an offence. All police officers involved with the incident were interviewed, as were all witnesses who had been at the complainants residence at the time. All relevant police records were reviewed. Attempts were made to interview the neighbour involved in the dispute and other witnesses but these people did not consent to being interviewed. On the basis of the evidence available, the Joint Review Committee (JRC) found that it was not unreasonable for the police to arrest and charge the complainant. The incident involved an escalating dispute between neighbours and police enquiries at the time suggested that the complainant had breached the peace. Although all charges against the complainant were subsequently dismissed, the presiding Magistrate did not find that there was no case to answer which suggested that there was at least some basis to the laying of the charges. The JRC did find, however, that police were somewhat quick to reach the conclusion that the complainant was at fault in the neighbour dispute, and that this may have escalated the dispute. It was recommended that the officers involved be given managerial guidance on how to deal with neighbour disputes.
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