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ACT POLICE CONSULTATIVE BOARD

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					ACT POLICE CONSULTATIVE BOARD




   2002 – 2003 ANNUAL REPORT
Introduction

The ACT Government established the Police Consultative Board in October
2000. The Board completed its first full year of operation in 2001-2002.

The Board’s mission is to promote positive relations between the community and
the police in the ACT.

The Board is a consultative body set up to:

•     provide a forum for gathering community views on policing in the ACT;
•     advise Government on those views;
•     maintain a dialogue with senior police in relation to matters affecting
      community attitudes to policing;
•     make recommendations to Government on courses of action which would
      assist police in carrying out their role in the ACT; and
•     respond to references from the Minister for Police and Emergency Services.

It should be noted that the Board has no statutory powers and does not exercise
executive control over any aspect of policing in the ACT.

The full terms of reference of the Board are at Appendix One.

Membership

Members of the Board work part-time on the affairs of the Board and are drawn
from the Crime Prevention Committee. The membership of the Board comprises:

    (Prof) David Biles   Consultant criminologist, former Deputy Director of the
    (Chair)              Australian Institute of Criminology; former Head of
                         Research with the Royal Commission into Aboriginal
                         Deaths in Custody.
    Bill Harris          Consultant, former Secretary of the ACT Chief Minister’s
                         Department and held various senior positions in the
                         Commonwealth public service.
    Michael Beattie      Consultant, former Commander AFP (ACT Policing) and
                         member of the ACT Sentence Administration Board.
    Maureen Cane         CEO of Communities & Work Inc.; former Chief Executive,
                         ACT Department of Public Administration and senior
                         manager, Commonwealth public service; former Executive
                         Director, Assisting Drug Dependents, Inc.
    Sharon Payne         A Badjula woman; lawyer; former CEO of the Aboriginal
                         Legal Service and member, ACT Aboriginal Justice
                         Advisory Committee.


In May 2001 an ex officio position for a board member was also established on the
Civic Safety Camera System audit committee. Bill Harris currently occupies this
position.

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                           ACT Police Consultative Board
Consideration of the interaction of police and mental health

In February 2003 the Board met with the incoming Minister for Police and
Emergency Services, Mr Bill Wood MLA. The Minister noted that the report of
the Board’s 2002 ‘First Contact’ seminar identified integrated approaches to
addressing emerging issues as important and that mental health is a priority
area. The Minister wrote to the Board on March 25, 2003 requesting their
further consideration and advice on the interaction of police and mental
health.

The Board embarked on an extensive consideration of this issue through a
process of expert briefings that involved inviting a wide range of
representatives from relevant agencies in this area to meet and explore issues
with the Board. Briefings to assist the Board were received from:

   •   ACT Policing (separate occasions to enable updates of data gathered)
   •   ACT Aboriginal community members
   •   ACT Ambulance Service
   •   ACT Community and Health Services Complaints Commissioner
   •   ACT Corrective Services
   •   Directions ACT
   •   Department of Justice and Community Safety
   •   ACT Mental Health Services
   •   Mental Health Crisis Team
   •   Office of the Community Advocate
   •   Toora Womens Refuge
   •   Youth Coalition of the ACT

Following the completion of its Interim Paper on this issue, the Board
envisages holding a specialist workshop informed by the inaugural ‘First
Contact’ seminar.

Solomons deployment

The Board has maintained a close interest in possible impacts on the ACT
community of the Australian Federal Police’s Solomons deployment. The
Board understands forty-two ACT Police officers are involved, from all
experience levels, including many younger personnel. The Board sees itself
having a primary role in monitoring service quality, especially police
attendance and responsiveness, and to this end the chair has asked all Crime
Prevention Committee members to advise him of any concerns in this regard.
The Board acknowledges the deployment is funded by the Commonwealth,


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                        ACT Police Consultative Board
but is likely to place an ongoing call on community policing resources in future
years.

Emergency calls to ACT Police

Board members maintain an up to date awareness of police protocols and
experiences. In May 2003 the chair reported on his observation of responses
to 000 emergency calls received by ACT Police on a randomly selected
Saturday night, as captured in a taped compilation covering twelve hours of
shift time (see Appendix Three).

Other Consultations

The Board continues to meet with ACT Policing’s Executive throughout the
year, in addition to the chair maintaining his close liaison with the Chief Police
Officer.

In April 2003 the Board received a briefing on police issues related to the January
18 bushfires from Ron McLeod, Stuart Ellis and Leanne Power of the ACT
Government’s Inquiry Into the Operational Response to the January Bushfires.

The ACT Policing Agreement’s performance indicators require ACT Policing’s
performance to be above the national average. In May 2003 the Board
received a presentation by Dr Tony Murney, Director Services, on the results
of AC Nielsen’s survey on public satisfaction with policing commissioned by
the Australasian Centre for Policing Research. The data included
considerable detail on regional variations within the ACT patrol boundaries.

Indigenous issues

Issues relating to policing and the Indigenous community continue to be a
concern, as illustrated by the ACT’s continuing over-representation of young
Aboriginal people in custody. The Board heard concerns over the scrutiny by
police of Aboriginal people by comparison with that of the general community and
questions over the basis of police decisions on whether or not to lay charges.

Size of the Board

The Board considers its size remains an issue for further consideration.
Additional members would be derived from the current membership of the
Crime Prevention Committee.

Board members considered that a youth representative is desirable but noted
the particular importance of gender equity issues in this respect given the high
representation of young males in the criminal justice system.

The Board was very pleased to welcome Crime Prevention Committee
member and community representative on the Mental Health Tibunal, Ross
Walker as a temporary member deputising for Bill Harris and to be joined by

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                          ACT Police Consultative Board
John Valentin, former Deputy Commissioner of the Northern Territory Police,
as a guest during the year.

Public communication

On the basis that the Board’s purpose could be better understood and is
capable of being easily portrayed, consideration was given to exploring a
pamphlet and a website, which could also help disseminate publications and
reports of its work.




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                        ACT Police Consultative Board
                                      APPENDIX ONE




ACT Police Consultative Board




     Terms of Reference




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      ACT Police Consultative Board
Mission of the Police Consultative Board:

•   to promote positive relations between the community and the police in
    the ACT.

The Board:

•   provides a forum for gathering community views on policing in the ACT;

•   advises Government on those views;

•   maintains a dialogue with senior police in relation to matters affecting
    community attitudes to policing;

•   makes recommendations to Government on courses of action which
    would assist police in carrying out their role in the ACT; and

•   responds to references from the Minister for Police and Emergency
    Services.

The Board does not:

•   handle complaints relating to specific individuals or police officers.
    Persons seeking to use the Board for that purpose will be advised to
    seek redress through existing complaints mechanisms;

•   only act as a vehicle for criticism but is also capable of gathering and
    reporting favourable community perceptions.

The Board’s membership is constituted as follows:

•   The Board consists of five part-time members drawn from the
    membership of the ACT Crime Prevention Committee.

•   The Chair of the Board is the same person appointed as the Chair of
    the Crime Prevention Committee.

•   All members are appointed by the Minister for Police and Emergency
    Services.

•   The term of appointment is for two years.

•   The Board is not a statutory body and its members are not ‘statutory
    appointees’ within the meaning of the Statutory Appointments Act 1994.
The following reporting arrangements apply for the Board:

•   The Board reports directly to the Minister for Police and Emergency
    Services and Corrections.

•   While the membership is drawn from the Crime Prevention Committee,
    the Board will act independently of the Committee – and will not function
    as a subcommittee of the Crime Prevention Committee.

The Board:

•   Meets bi-monthly, or more frequently, if required; and

•   uses the same administrative resources as those available to the Crime
    Prevention Committee.

The Board will maintain a network for gathering community views,
including adopting the following strategies:

•   The Crime Prevention Committee will provide a standing agenda item,
    enabling committee members to present their views at each meeting.

•   The Board will invite other existing forums, such as the Aboriginal
    Justice Advisory Council, to present their views.

•   The Board will access existing survey data such as ABS victim surveys.

•   The Board will survey agencies and individuals representative of
    various users of police services, eg VOCAL, Community Advocate, Law
    Society, and the Domestic Violence Crisis Service.

•   The Board will have access to relevant documents, such as police
    purchasing agreements.
                                                        APPENDIX TWO


                ACT CRIME PREVENTION COMMITTEE

        Name                           Representation / interest
Reappointments
David Biles         Chair, ACT Crime Prevention Committee
Bill Harris         Deputy Chair, ACT Crime Prevention Committee
Michael Beattie     Consultant, former Commander Australian Federal Police
Angela Brown        Victims Of Crime Assistance League - VOCAL
Bob Budd            Teacher, former Director of the Alcohol and Drug Foundation
Bill Bush           Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform
Maureen Cane        CEO Tuggeranong Community Service
Bridie Doyle        ACT Council Of Social Services (ACTCOSS)
Fred Fawke          Chair, Neighbourhood Watch Association
Anne Forrest        Member of the Manuka Safety Committee
Peter Grabosky      ANU Criminologist
Leo Kobier          ACT Community Councils representative
Phil Newton         NRMA Area Manager, representing the insurance industry
Jacqueline Pearce   ACT Women’s Consultative Council representative
Ross Walker         Council On The Ageing
Appointments
Alex Cahill         Youth Coalition
Socorro Cue         President, Ethnic Communities Consultative Council
Sarah Graham        ACT Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Jennifer Leeson     St John Ambulance
Sharon Payne        ACT Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee
Hugh Poate          Security industry representative
Ex-Officio
Fran Barry          ACT Health
Narina Dahms        DHaCS
Robyn Holder        VoCC
Fiona MacGregor     DEYFS
Chris Lines         ACT Policing
James Ryan          ACT Corrective Services
                                                          APPENDIX THREE


EMERGENCY CALLS TO THE ACT POLICE

David Biles

On Thursday 1 May 2003 I was given the opportunity to listen to tape
recordings of "000" calls that had been received by the ACT Police
between 8 pm on Saturday 26 April and 6.30 am on Sunday 27 April
2003. As the recordings are sound activated and the number was not in
constant use, the time required for listening was a little over two hours.
(Before being admitted to the Communications Room I gave an
assurance that I would not take notes of names or other identifying
details.)

The recording and playback system is very efficient and, after a little
instruction I was able to retrieve and play any calls within the time
frame. I had selected that time frame only minutes before starting
listening and therefore there was no opportunity for anyone to tamper
with the tapes and eliminate any which might have been embarrassing
for the police.

My main purpose in this exercise was to form a judgement, on behalf of
the ACT Police Consultative Board, of the level of professionalism and
empathy of the operators who took the calls. The Board had
recognised for some time that the "first contact" between the police and
members of the public was crucially important in the establishment of
good relations, and that the operators in the Communications Room
played a significant role in handling that contact. It is relevant to note
that the majority of the operators are civilians who have received
special training for the job, but there are always at least one or two
sworn police officers doing the same job and there is always a police
sergeant present.

I did not take any notes during my visit, but my estimate is that I
listened to about 60 or 70 calls, with a little over half being taken by
female operators. Many of the callers were emotionally upset and
several others seemed to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
These cases were obviously challenging for the operators. Another
challenge for the operators was the difficulty that many callers had
identifying their precise location. An extreme example of this was one
caller who repeatedly said that he was "in Canberra" when he was
asked where he was!

In every call that I monitored the operators were exemplary in their
behaviour. They were all professional, polite and patient. Some of the
male operators tended to be a little informal on occasions saying things
like "Thanks mate, I appreciate your call" but this was appropriate in
the circumstances. The female operators in particular showed
commendable patience and tolerance in obtaining addresses and in
advising callers to ring 131 444 for non-emergency calls.

There were two minor negative matters that came to notice. At around
6 am on the Sunday morning one call was not answered after the
telephone rang for 49 seconds. One cannot expect perfection, but even
one unanswered emergency call is unacceptable as it could have
placed a life at risk.

The second negative matter was technical in nature. In perhaps 5% of
the calls the sound of the operator typing information into a keyboard
was so loud as to make it difficult for the caller's voice to be heard. I am
sure that this could be avoided by either providing some sound
deadening under the keyboards or by adjusting the headsets worn by
the operators.

Overall, this was a valuable exercise which I believe should be
repeated from time to time by other members of the Police Consultative
Board as it reveals a great deal about the reality of policing in the ACT.

6.5.03

				
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