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Police focus for complaints

BY DINAH ARNDT CHIEF POLITICAL REPORTER
26 Sep, 2011 08:16 AM

COMPLAINTS against police prompted a third of the investigations carried out by Tasmania’s Integrity Commission.

Most of the 164 complaints to the commission in its first year of operation haven’t been pursued.

But of those that have been, about a third related to complaints against the police, followed by councils.

Only a small number were about politicians.

Chief Commissioner Murray Kellam said that was unsurprising given the high level of contact that police had with the public.

He said the commission would like to have a permanent place at the police academy, which was supported by Tasmania Police.

“The percentage of complaints about police in this state is lower than the percentage of complaints we see to other bodies in other states,” he said.

“I think the police are already taking very good steps and the public can have confidence in them. The police are also very keen for us to join with them in having a position right from the start at induction time, and perhaps even for promotional courses.”

From the 40 investigations under way, and those already completed, Mr Kellam said there was no evidence of systemic corruption in Tasmania.
Conflict of interest is proving to be the most common source of complaint.

The commission is seeking clarity from State Parliament on its act, but Mr Kellam said that was not about needing new or expanded powers.

While many heralded the commission as “the big stick” that would pull public servants and politicians into line, Mr Kellam believes its role is about education.

“I really don’t see our central focus as chasing down naughty people,” he said.

“It’s a different culture down here, and I think that culture is best served by the way we tend to work, and that’s quietly with an educational focus and trying to encourage a culture of openness and transparency.”

Examiner HERE