Australia NSW Police database unlocked: the where, when and why officers used force
Police seize 40 guns, grenade and magic mushrooms in Queensland raid
A stash of guns and drugs have been seized from a central Queensland property by police and border force agents who suspect a man had the weapons delivered by post. Officers raided a home in Torbanlea, north of Maryborough, last week and allegedly seized more than 40 guns, a grenade, knuckledusters, nunchukkas, knifes as well as drug utensils, cannabis, Magic Mushrooms and synthetic cannabinoid products. A 39-year-old Torbanlea man, who was there during the raid, was set to front Hervey Bay Magistrates Court on October 3 on 11 drug and firearm offences.
NSW Police drew their Tasers almost 3000 times in the course of duty over the past five years, according to internal police records and, in more than 1000 of these cases, officers logged a mental-health issue.
Details of the 57,500 times police recorded the use of force in the community between 2014 and 2018 have been released under freedom of information laws, detailing where, when and the reasons that officers deemed the use of force necessary.
The state's 16,800 police are required to record every time they draw a Taser or use force against a person in the Computerised Operational Policing System (COPS) database. There are more than 100 descriptions of events they can use, including "Public Mischief" and "Armed/Disguised With Intent".
Police hospitalised after catching accused arsonist in the act
Two police officers have been hospitalised after a dramatic arson arrest in north Queensland. A helicopter pilot, who had seen a man lighting fires near Cedar Creek Falls in the Whitsundays, called police about 3pm Wednesday. When police arrived, the man they believed to be the arsonist allegedly rammed the cop car with his vehicle. Both police officers fired their guns at the man's car before arresting him. The accused arsonist was taken to Proserpine Hospital in a stable condition. "The two officers are in hospital being treated for minor injuries due to the collision," a police statement read.
Using force is a necessary part of policing and does not indicate police misconduct.
A Herald analysis of the data shows police stationed in Sydney City Police Area Command (PAC) used force most often, in excess of 2100 times from 2014 to 2018. Penrith based Nepean PAC was the second most forceful in Sydney, recording about 1750 events, Campbelltown City ranked third (about 1450 events), followed by Sutherland (1300) and Liverpool (1275).
Force was used least in Quakers Hill PAC (310) and Camden PAC (500) over the same five-year period.
NSW Police use an escalating series of options, including force, to respond to a suspect's behaviour.
The data shows Sydney City and Kings Cross police areas recorded the biggest drop in the use of force from 2014 to 2018 - 200 fewer incidents - following the introduction of lockout laws. In the suburb of Potts Point, force was used half as much in 2018 as it was in 2014. Camden and Surry Hills logged the largest increases over the same period, more than 50 extra cases each.
Alleged Qld arsonist charged
A man is facing a string of charges after allegedly lighting fires in north Queensland and ramming a police car, forcing officers to shoot at him. Charges have been laid against an alleged arsonist who was shot at during a dramatic arrest in Queensland's north.The 53-year-old is facing seven charges after he allegedly rammed a police car and was fired on by officers at Palm Grove in the Whitsundays region on Wednesday.A chopper pilot flying over the area had earlier spotted him lighting fires and raised the alarm, police say.
Tasers were used most often in the regional city of Orange and in Surry Hills, both more than 50 times. In Coffs Harbour, Tasers were drawn 40 times.
Different regions of NSW reported different reasons for forceful interactions with police.
Offensive language was cited 4800 times over the five years, most often when using force in Parramatta, Sydney, Wollongong, Blacktown and Manly. The Hills Shire police recorded the least use of force with offensive language flagged on 20 occasions.
Intoxicated people and those intoxicated plus refusing directions from police were dealt with forcefully about 4000 times. People labelled intoxicated were dealt with forcefully most often by officers in Byron Bay, at more than 120 events. Sydney City officers dealt forcefully with intoxicated people in more than 100 cases. Inner West police ranked second in Sydney, recording more than 80, followed by North Shore police who logged about 70. Mount Druitt police logged force used against intoxicated people about 15 times.
Tasmanian prisoner on the run near Hobart
A prisoner has escaped from a Tasmanian prison, with police conducting a land and air search in the vicinity of Hobart.Officers and a police helicopter are on Monday morning trying to track down Graham John Enniss, 38, who has fled Risdon Prison, near Hobart.
Kings Cross and Sydney City officers saw the most intoxicated people refuse police directions - more than 80 instances each. The Northern Beaches and Surry Hills were the next most obstinate areas for police who dealt forcefully with intoxicated people more than 50 times each.
Unlawful and forceful arrests tended to occur more often in western and south-western Sydney, Eugene Schofield-Georgeson from UTS law school said, based on his research reviewing court cases.
"The further west you go, the more violent crimes you get and the more inexperienced police get," Dr Schofield-Georgeson said. "This leads to more use of force against a working-class population that suffer other health issues, which are exacerbated as a result."
On an average day, police officers used force 32 times across the state between 2014 and 2018 but on New Year's Day the average was 108 and Australia Day also spiked to an average of 80.
Mental-health issues were the second most common category noted by officers who responded to 243,181 mental-health related events between 2014 and 2018, using force about 5 per cent of the time, in 13,394 cases.
Police commander's jobs at risk over NT Government pay freeze policy
The NT Police Force is at risk of losing two highly experienced commanders to the Territory Government's executive pay freeze policy. The policy is hoped to save $25 million over three years and was recommended in a review of the Territory's finances by former WA under-treasurer John Langoulant, released in April.Since July, Chief Minister Michael Gunner has been clear that public servants on executive contracts had three options: sign a contract amendment accepting a three-year pay freeze this year, accept a four-year freeze at 2019 wages for their next contract, or face their contract not being renewed.
These events are increasing by 5000 or more a year, the NSW Police Association said.
In 2012, police dealt with 38,534 mental-health incidents; in 2016 officers faced 61,441 cases.
"NSW is becoming increasingly reliant on police responses [to mental-health issues] rather than support or treatment in a health setting," an association spokesman said. "NSW spends less per capita on community-based mental health care than any other state or territory."
Use of excessive force is one of the most common complaints raised by clients at Redfern Legal Centre's police accountability advice clinic, head of the division, Samantha Lee, said.
"Unfortunately, the cases we see suggest that some police are relying on the use of excessive force as routine procedure," Ms Lee said.
"A common story is: police get called to an incident of threatened self-harm and they are asked to detain and convey the person to a mental-health facility," Ms Lee said. "The person at the scene is in a high state of distress and shocked when police turn up on their doorstep. This is a situation that often escalates quickly from verbal instruction to either physical restraint or sometimes the use of a Taser or firearm."
A NSW Police spokeswoman said of all the mental-health related events, 0.4 per cent involved the use of Tasers and, three-quarters of the time, Taser use involved officers only drawing but not "actively using" their Tasers.
"NSW Police officers are often the first people on the scene when there is a crisis situation involving someone with mental illness, whether it be as a victim or alleged offender," the spokeswoman said.
Since February 2014, a mental-health intervention workshop for frontline police has been completed by more than 18,000 officers.
"This course ensures police are educated to identify behaviours in the field indicative of mental illness and are provided with tools to manage mental-health incidents; such as communication strategies, risk assessment, de-escalation and crisis intervention techniques," the spokeswoman said.
"The core aim of policing is preservation of life."
NSW Minister for Police David Elliot was contacted for comment and did not respond.
Severed fingertip posted through letterbox .
Sussex Police are searching for a man whose severed fingertip was posted through a letterbox. Officers are investigating the "alarming" incident in the seaside town of Bognor Regis after the body part was reportedly discovered at a family home.Tests have established the fingertip belongs to a man and a DNA profile has been checked against the national DNA and missing persons' database.However the search returned a negative result and the man's identity remains unknown, Sussex Police said.Chief Inspector Jon Carter said the discovery of the fingertip on 10 September was "an unusual and isolated incident".
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