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Pontificating Police

By John Hargreaves 4 August 2014 36

police-generic-a

Do you wanna know what annoys me? Probably not. Anyway, heaps of things do.

As an over 65 year old, I have a duty to pick things which give me the irrits and whinge about them. It comes with the right to hiss at noisy children in supermarkets, the right to make unseemly noises in the back pew, the right to find fault with everyone younger than me and yearn for days gone by.

So, here is my latest. When I was in the Legislative Assembly, I looked into the doctrine of the separation of powers. You know… the difference between the Legislature, the Judiciary and the Executive.

Judicial officers, ie Magistrates and Judges are the Judiciary, and parliamentarians are the Legislature. The Executive are Ministers. Well, public servants come under the Executive as they are charged with doing the bidding of the government of the day. Not a hard thing to grasp, I would have thought.

Now, did you know that police officers are in fact, part of the Executive too? They are not part of the Judiciary. They answer to the Minister for Police in the same way as doctors in the public health system answer to the Minister for Health. They are not judge, jury and executioner. Or at least not supposed to be…

So where do they get off expressing opinions on anything? How would you feel if some run of the mill public servant was on telly being judgmental on stuff we are doing? Police officers are often found on TV saying “they are concerned at the road toll”; “they are not going to put up with violence in Civic on a Saturday night”. Etc, etc.

Police are there to do their best to protect the community and do an extremely good job and one we often undervalue. But they don’t do their case any good by pontificating on TV about the behaviour of our citizens. Any comment of this nature is for the Government should be through the responsible Minister.

I understand their frustration about seeing habitual crims released on bail, but it is not for them to voice that frustration. They are servants of the people, and they do not sit in judgment of the people, the judiciary does that.

Anyway, whinge over. I’ve been irritated by this for 40 years and I guess will continue for the next few.

But at least I have had my whinge.

What’s Your opinion?


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Pontificating Police
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John Hargreaves Ex MLA 12:14 pm 19 Aug 14

Smithers said :

John Hargreaves Ex MLA said :

bigM said :

Ok, so we will all wait with anticipation for simon corbell and our magistrates and judges to come out and make daily public media releases about issues within our community………because the Police are just there to do what we the public want them to do, cant have them expressing an opinion given they experience it everyday. If we let the courts release the media releases, we’ll find out about what occurred a year or so ago because they are so far behind.

Given that it has annoyed you for so long, I assume you raised this issue with the minister whilst you were a member of the assembly??????

I cant wait for Mr Corbell to lecture me on fire safety and give a good demonstration of the stop, drop and roll

I had this view and expressed it when I was the Minister for Police but I still say that the police, who do a brilliant job, ought not try to drive community attitudinal change unilaterally.

AND… Mr Corbell is well qualified to advise on fire safety. He was for many years a volunteer fire fighter.

The Police perform a hard job. And deserve thanks and respect for it. To say that they do a brilliant Job would is overkill, and its not necessary. I agree with you in that Police should not be the people trying for changes in attitudes of the community. Though I don’t think that they have been, or that they seeking such. But if then we ask who should be the voice to which we should pay attention, the answer might elude us for a long time to come.
Once upon a time I am sure that there would have been a time where those in public officer would have been out to lead public opinion with integrity instead of just responding to it on the back of a media poll.

This is no longer the case in the past years as is demonstrated countless times through all levels of government. Police aren’t anyone you should listen to for advice on how to live life in the world, if in fact it is on offer. That is a given. But if there is a group or person whom you could put forward as a better substitute, then I would like to hear it. On a side note, pretty much anyone who can walk is able to become a volunteer fire fighter. And more than a few of those have been found out to be responsible for having started fires in the first place. So lets just settle. If you really want to hear a case of how brilliantly the police have handled our family’s lost loved one, and how the government has asked little about it since, come on over. I ll tell you all about it for free.

Thank you for this – I agree with most of your views but not all. My view of the great job the police do is from two sources. The first is first hand experience as Minister for Police and the second is personal experience possibly not unlike your own. But thanks for the offer.

John Hargreaves Ex MLA 12:11 pm 19 Aug 14

Yorrick said :

Rather interesting take on the topic John. Would you care to expand on your comments in light of the following excerpt from some case law on the topic? Following your research is there a need to cite the case?

‘ A police constable has always been an arm of the law and never a servant employed to do a master’s bidding on all occasions and in any circumstances. His authority is original, and not derived from a master or exercised on behalf of one, but is exercised on behalf of the public ..’

Your use of the word ‘bidding’and the language above is interesting. The reference to police duties being performed on behalf of, or for the public equally so.

Moving on, what is your view on section 9 (1)(b) of the Australian Federal Police Act which confers powers on police officers. I refer specifically to the power of Constable and reference to Common Law.

       (b)  when performing functions in the Australian Capital Territory–the powers
and duties
conferred or imposed on a constable
 or on an officer of police by or under any law (including the common law) of the Territory .

In considering the above I would be interested on your view of what the Peelian principles of policing mean in this time. I quite like point 1-2-5-7 and expect 9 may provide you with a pedestal to cry from.
* To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.
* To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
* To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.
* To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.
* To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.
* To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.
* To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
* To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.
* To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them

My take on the Special Office of the Constable, the uniqueness of which is entrenched in the federal AFP legislation and which derives from British legislation, is that it refers to the powers of the police to apprehend or not, to charge or not, and it recognises that theirs is 24/7 job.

I respect this aspect of policing and would not change it.

However, one needs to understand that in the ACT we have no police force pre se. The self government legislation and the AFP Act entrenches the position of the AFP as contractors to the ACT government to provide community policing. Constables are actually responsible to the AFP commissioner or delegate.

the AFP Commissioner is responsible tot he ACT Government, the Minister for Police at the moment, for the provision of the community policing services through the Policing Agreement and the Policing Arrangements which stipulations underpin the Agreement. it is nonetheless a contract. Contractors have no right to comment on the policies of their employing authority. They must merely deliver on their contract.

individuals may comment any time they like on the social life of their community, but employees and contractors have no such right.

Smithers 7:53 pm 13 Aug 14

John Hargreaves Ex MLA said :

bigM said :

Ok, so we will all wait with anticipation for simon corbell and our magistrates and judges to come out and make daily public media releases about issues within our community………because the Police are just there to do what we the public want them to do, cant have them expressing an opinion given they experience it everyday. If we let the courts release the media releases, we’ll find out about what occurred a year or so ago because they are so far behind.

Given that it has annoyed you for so long, I assume you raised this issue with the minister whilst you were a member of the assembly??????

I cant wait for Mr Corbell to lecture me on fire safety and give a good demonstration of the stop, drop and roll

I had this view and expressed it when I was the Minister for Police but I still say that the police, who do a brilliant job, ought not try to drive community attitudinal change unilaterally.

AND… Mr Corbell is well qualified to advise on fire safety. He was for many years a volunteer fire fighter.

The Police perform a hard job. And deserve thanks and respect for it. To say that they do a brilliant Job would is overkill, and its not necessary. I agree with you in that Police should not be the people trying for changes in attitudes of the community. Though I don’t think that they have been, or that they seeking such. But if then we ask who should be the voice to which we should pay attention, the answer might elude us for a long time to come.
Once upon a time I am sure that there would have been a time where those in public officer would have been out to lead public opinion with integrity instead of just responding to it on the back of a media poll. This is no longer the case in the past years as is demonstrated countless times through all levels of government. Police aren’t anyone you should listen to for advice on how to live life in the world, if in fact it is on offer. That is a given. But if there is a group or person whom you could put forward as a better substitute, then I would like to hear it. On a side note, pretty much anyone who can walk is able to become a volunteer fire fighter. And more than a few of those have been found out to be responsible for having started fires in the first place. So lets just settle. If you really want to hear a case of how brilliantly the police have handled our family’s lost loved one, and how the government has asked little about it since, come on over. I ll tell you all about it for free.

Yorrick 9:34 pm 10 Aug 14

Rather interesting take on the topic John. Would you care to expand on your comments in light of the following excerpt from some case law on the topic? Following your research is there a need to cite the case?

‘ A police constable has always been an arm of the law and never a servant employed to do a master’s bidding on all occasions and in any circumstances. His authority is original, and not derived from a master or exercised on behalf of one, but is exercised on behalf of the public ..’

Your use of the word ‘bidding’and the language above is interesting. The reference to police duties being performed on behalf of, or for the public equally so.

Moving on, what is your view on section 9 (1)(b) of the Australian Federal Police Act which confers powers on police officers. I refer specifically to the power of Constable and reference to Common Law.

       (b)  when performing functions in the Australian Capital Territory–the powers
and duties
conferred or imposed on a constable
 or on an officer of police by or under any law (including the common law) of the Territory .

In considering the above I would be interested on your view of what the Peelian principles of policing mean in this time. I quite like point 1-2-5-7 and expect 9 may provide you with a pedestal to cry from.
* To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.
* To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
* To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.
* To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.
* To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.
* To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.
* To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
* To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.
* To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them

John Hargreaves Ex MLA 10:30 am 08 Aug 14

dungfungus said :

John Hargreaves Ex MLA said :

Aren’t Labor haters such good copy. God gave them to me for my entertainment. Abuse and nastiness are no substitute for clever repartee.

You have to roll with the punches, Johno.

Give me good repartee and it is fun. Give me abuse and personal attack and I respond in kind. In the Assembly I would mark out of 10 the attacks on me if they were done cleverly. when it descended into vitriol, I lost me respect for those opposite and my disgust found new heights. I also considered them to be childish.

dungfungus 10:07 am 08 Aug 14

John Hargreaves Ex MLA said :

Aren’t Labor haters such good copy. God gave them to me for my entertainment. Abuse and nastiness are no substitute for clever repartee.

You have to roll with the punches, Johno.

John Hargreaves Ex MLA 9:56 am 08 Aug 14

Aren’t Labor haters such good copy. God gave them to me for my entertainment. Abuse and nastiness are no substitute for clever repartee.

John Hargreaves Ex MLA 9:55 am 08 Aug 14

HenryBG said :

bigfeet said :

This post is just way out-there and screams “Look at me I’m still relevant… someone look at me… I’m doing something… LOOK AT ME”

I think it’s time for a hobby John: Quilting, Home-brewing, cross-dressing, model trains, bee-keeping, cross-dressing bees … the possibilities are endless.

I don’t understand why ad hominem nonsense such as this is accepted on this website.

Hargreaves has his opinions. Unlike some, he is happy to share those opinions. We can agree or disagree with those opinions, and perhaps even provide cogent argument and quote facts to support our position.
On the other hand, we can indulge in personal attacks, thus admitting our intellectual insufficiency.

Yeah but Bigfeet still read the posts and is adopting a superior position to which he/she is not entitled.

People are entitled to their opinions and to express them (thanks that 18C is dead) with courtesy, even ex pollies.

HenryBG 9:31 am 08 Aug 14

bigfeet said :

This post is just way out-there and screams “Look at me I’m still relevant… someone look at me… I’m doing something… LOOK AT ME”

I think it’s time for a hobby John: Quilting, Home-brewing, cross-dressing, model trains, bee-keeping, cross-dressing bees … the possibilities are endless.

I don’t understand why ad hominem nonsense such as this is accepted on this website.

Hargreaves has his opinions. Unlike some, he is happy to share those opinions. We can agree or disagree with those opinions, and perhaps even provide cogent argument and quote facts to support our position.
On the other hand, we can indulge in personal attacks, thus admitting our intellectual insufficiency.

dungfungus 7:58 am 08 Aug 14

John Hargreaves Ex MLA said :

bigM said :

Ok, so we will all wait with anticipation for simon corbell and our magistrates and judges to come out and make daily public media releases about issues within our community………because the Police are just there to do what we the public want them to do, cant have them expressing an opinion given they experience it everyday. If we let the courts release the media releases, we’ll find out about what occurred a year or so ago because they are so far behind.

Given that it has annoyed you for so long, I assume you raised this issue with the minister whilst you were a member of the assembly??????

I cant wait for Mr Corbell to lecture me on fire safety and give a good demonstration of the stop, drop and roll

I had this view and expressed it when I was the Minister for Police but I still say that the police, who do a brilliant job, ought not try to drive community attitudinal change unilaterally.

AND… Mr Corbell is well qualified to advise on fire safety. He was for many years a volunteer fire fighter.

A volunteer fire fighter like Tony Abbott has been for many years and still is. I haven’t heard Abbott advise on fire safety though.

bigfeet 7:37 pm 07 Aug 14

This post is just way out-there and screams “Look at me I’m still relevant… someone look at me… I’m doing something… LOOK AT ME”

I think it’s time for a hobby John: Quilting, Home-brewing, cross-dressing, model trains, bee-keeping, cross-dressing bees … the possibilities are endless.

John Hargreaves Ex MLA 5:49 pm 07 Aug 14

Spiral said :

Wow! Are you for real? I am so glad you are an ex-MLA.

I suppose you are against doctors saying things in the public arena too?

Doctors on the public payroll, unless directed or requested to do so by higher authority should not voice their views publicly.

John Hargreaves Ex MLA 5:48 pm 07 Aug 14

bd84 said :

Sorry, did you say something? Nobody listens to ministers.

Your post is shallow and unbecoming. Your inference that I am a minister is also way out of date.

John Hargreaves Ex MLA 5:47 pm 07 Aug 14

magiccar9 said :

John Hargreaves Ex MLA said :

magiccar9 said :

I could say the exact same thing about ex-MLAs “expressing their opinion” on public forum sites…

So you’re saying that people who have retired from politics are not permitted the same rights as you are. As a citizen and not an elected representative, I have the same rights as you, but I am not part of the doctrine separation of powers. Police are part of the Executive and thus are part of a process. they are not the process itself and are not independent of it.

Where did I say anything like that John?

What I’m saying is that the police we see on TV and hear on the radio, are qualified to represent the police force in media releases. All you are now (by your own description) is an ex-MLA who seems to abuse this public forum to over-express his opinion in pointless topics.

To summarise, you’re an ex-MLA who takes to public forums to complain whereas police media representatives are approved to speak and discuss their work in the hope that the community can learn/act and have a positive influence in general.

I must take issue with your view that police media are entitled to give “opinion”. They are not. They are obliged to give facts not views. And I do not criticise the media unit which is acting at the behest of the Minister or delegate. You often see a senior officer saying that the police are “sick of seeing X or Y” and “They are not going tolerate X and Y”. This is not their job to take the position of judgment.

BTW, ex MLAs are entitled to a view on anything they wish and your inference that they should refrain from expressing a view is a denial of the right to freedom of speech, something rampant in totalitarian societies.

John Hargreaves Ex MLA 5:42 pm 07 Aug 14

When I was a serving officer of the public service, I was told that I could comment publicly on any subject other than that of the department in which I was serving. The validity of this position is that pronouncements of policy on a given subject is the province of the Minister or to a delegate of said minister.

Police in the ACT are in fact contractors to the Territory. the AFP has a contract with the ACT Govt to provide policing services. This is enshrined in the Self Govt Act and the AFP Act (Commonwealth).

But a contract it is and thus the officers are employees of a contractor. How would you feel if an employee of a road building contractor made public statements criticising the general public?

Further, The police do a great job; it is a tough job; but they should keep opinions on issues to the private arena unless expressly asked to do so by the Minister or delegate.

house_husband 7:38 am 05 Aug 14

“Police officers are often found on TV saying “they are concerned at the road toll”; “they are not going to put up with violence in Civic on a Saturday night”. Etc, etc”

Here is the most recent Ministerial Direction issued to the AFP:

http://www.police.act.gov.au/~/media/act/pdf/2014-15%20Ministerial%20Direction.ashx

Seeing as it specifically mentions the two issues in your example as areas for special focus, are they not just conducting a media and public relations campaign that is aligned to current government policy and expectations? It isn’t like they are saying “We don’t think there is a problem with violence in Civic and the Minister is wrong” or “We really think illicit drugs aren’t that bad so we won’t enforce the law”.

As the frontline to counter anti-social and illegal behaviour I believe they have every right to express opinions and explain clearly what activities they are concerned about and what their members will do.

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