Photograph: James Ross / AAP
A highly skilled Victorian police team involved in a series of violent arrests could continue to put the public at risk unless overhauled, the state’s corruption control body said.
The Independent Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) said in a report Tuesday that the risks of misconduct related to the Critical Incident Response Team (Cirt) remained, despite previous investigations.
The squad of approximately 185 officers responds to high-risk incidents that are beyond the capabilities of the general service police but do not meet the criteria for the deployment of the elite group for special operations.
For the past five years, Cirt agents have been involved in the killing of a man and a woman at a swingers party, in the serious injury of a man during a wrongful arrest at an LGBTQ + bookstore, and in driving a police car. against a mentally ill person and kicking him in the head outside the hospital.
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Two team officers were recently cleared of criminal charges in connection with separate incidents, including when a man’s jaw was broken after he was mistakenly arrested after a police chase, and another when an officer allegedly kicked his head. of a person arrested while seated and complacent.
The Ibac report also reveals that three members of the Cirt team were involved in an incident when one of the officers threatened and intimidated a relative’s ex-partner.
In response to the report, Victorian police said they were implementing a new use of the forces database, which they expected would be operational within the next year.
Ibac found that Cirt agents did not correctly register when they had used force, for example when none of the agents who drew their weapons or activated their tasers during the raid on the library recorded the actions on the use of the force modules. , in violation of Victorian police policy.
IBAC made six recommendations, half of which relate to the database, including that the Victorian Police should notify Victor within six months of how the new system would improve the accuracy of those reports and be used to identify trends.
Within a year, Ibac said Victorian police should report to her on how the database has overcome the risk of inaccurate or incomplete use of the force report and consult with other law enforcement agencies to identify barriers and risks for accurate reporting.
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Ibac also recommended that Victorian Police strengthen Cirt’s methods of assessing operational risk, clarify the roles and responsibilities of Cirt officers and general duty officers when the team participates in incidents, and diversify leadership and members of Cirt, as over 90% of its officers are men.
“City officials are responsible for responding to high-risk incidents, which often involve people in crisis,” the report noted.
“Given the difficult nature of this job, it is important that the Victorian Police train, equip, supervise and support their officers appropriately.
“Victoria Police need to build on the work they have already done to further mitigate any risk of Cirt’s misconduct.”
Jeremy King, a Robinson Gill attorney who represented several people who were injured in incidents involving Cirt, said the report highlighted the need for a review of the state’s police oversight model.
He said he recently reported Ibac to the Victoria Inspectorate after the watchdog failed to review the raid on the library, despite King telling them that new evidence had emerged about the incident during a civil lawsuit against the officers he had brought. to a confidential agreement earlier this year.
A spokesman for the Victoria police said the force was considering Ibac’s recommendations.
“Each of the IBAC historical investigations mentioned in the report was subject to previous recommendations that the Victorian police have accepted.
“As many in the community will know, the Critical Incident Response Team operates in a complex environment that poses significant risks to the public, other police forces and members of CIRT.
“Victoria Police have begun work to procure a new database on the use of force that will improve accountability across Victorian Police and last year provided mandatory training to all frontline police on how and when to do so. use of force should be reported. “