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Analysis and Comment (44)

Not who you want stopping you on the street. Danny Lawson/PA

Where stop-and-search policing with a firearm became routine

Here’s a figure that deserves some attention: in the first year in which Scotland had a single police force, 8,000 stop searches were carried out by armed response officers, an average of 29 searches by…
The Toronto G20 summit showed what starts out as a peaceful protest can turn into a violent clash. EPA/Sergei Ilinitsky

G20 lockdown: the challenge of balancing freedom and security

The Brisbane G20 summit is shaping up to to be Australia’s largest security operation. In recent decades, most large-scale protests in Australia have been relatively peaceful events, but the policing of…
Chemical weapons could be making a stealthy comeback. Andreas Gradin via Shutterstock

Could incapacitating chemical weapons start an arms race?

On October 26 2002, to end a three-day siege on a theatre in Moscow by Chechen terrorists, Russian security forces used a secret incapacitating chemical agent (ICA) weapon believed to affect the central…
Police in Ferguson, Missouri, far beyond your friendly neighborhood patrolmen. Larry W Smith/EPA

Police militarization is a legacy of cold war paranoia

In August, the police who faced protesters in Ferguson, Missouri looked more like soldiers than officers of the peace. Citizens squared off with a camouflage-clad police force armed with tear gas and grenade…
Better brush up on your sleuthing skills. Casey Fleser

First come DIY detectives, then pay-as-you go policing

An alarming report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has revealed that some police forces have simply given up investigating some types of crime, instead calling on the general public to…
The blurring of the line between the military and the police, especially in the US, is now on the political agenda following recent events in Ferguson, Missouri. EPA/Roberto Rodriguez

Urban combat: Ferguson and the militarisation of police

Anyone watching the footage coming out of Ferguson, Missouri in recent days would be forgiven for thinking they had tuned into a scene from a combat zone, rather than suburban America. There has been a…
Mobile phone towers can be used to locate people. Flickr/Ervins Strauhmanis

What the police can get from mobile phone tower data

Metadata is in the news again with revelations that police in Australia have been getting access to data collected from mobile base stations (cell towers). In the wiretapping world there is a distinction…
In preparing for the World Cup, Brazilian police have embarked on a process of cleaning up the country’s poorest neighbourhoods, known as favelas. EPA/Antonio Lacerda

Brazil’s World Cup preparations showcase ‘celebration capitalism’

Brazil is famous for many things: samba, football and beaches, but also its favelas, the poor neighbourhoods that encircle its cities. These areas are often on invaded lands in middle and upper-class neighbourhoods…
A bit of ‘territorial support’ from the thin blue line. Carl Court/PA Wire

Violence in Britain: getting away with murder?

Over the past ten years, 519 people have died after contact with the police, either in custody (the great majority) or during a pursuit or another road traffic incident. Some 23 people have been shot by…
With the Queensland Police Force covering his back, Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen (pictured right) was impervious in his time in power. srv007

Jacks and Jokers: Bjelke-Petersen and Queensland’s ‘police state’

In his latest book, Jacks and Jokers, Matthew Condon traces the rise and influence of Queensland Police Commissioner Terry Lewis during the Joh Bjelke-Petersen years. In this extract, Condon writes how…
Surprisingly few police have the knowledge and skills to know how to deal with people in crisis. Shutterstock

Training police to better respond to people with mental illness

Police officers encounter people with mental illnesses every day, whether they are perpetrators, victims, or witnesses of crime. In 2013 alone, NSW police responded to more than 40,000 mental health incidents…
The move to mobile technology has opened up a wealth of metadata, but that information goes deeper than you may first think. The Fuji street shooter/Flickr

Metadata and the law: what your smartphone really says about you

Metadata related to lawful interception has been in the news a bit lately. You may have seen last week the Australian Federal Police (AFP) called for more access to electronic metadata as a Senate committee…
Police lead away members of the Drax coal train protest group. Anna Gowthorpe/PA

The shocking and immoral behaviour of the British secret police

The news that a group of environmental protesters who stopped a train carrying coal to the Drax power station in 2009 have had their convictions overturned should give us pause for thought about the current…
‘Susan’, a trafficked sex worker - one of a minority, research has suggested. Manchester Evening News/PA Wire

Only a minority of UK sex workers have been trafficked

The moral panic on the supposed prevalence of trafficking in the global sex industry rests on a lie: that the majority of sex workers are trafficked. In fact, the opposite is true. However, on the basis…
Policing in the UK appears to be benefitting from commissioners. brizzle born and bred

After a slow start, police commissioners hit their stride

The “plebgate” saga has once again raised questions about police integrity and dented public trust and confidence in policing more generally. Building such trust was, of course, one of the coalition government’s…
Tanking’s too good for ‘em. beob8er

Drunk tanks another private police disaster in the making

Since the Thatcher years, successive governments from both political parties have been committed to reforming and reducing the public sector. Alongside, there have been numerous reforms to introduce “private…
Evening all: Elected commissioners are under pressure. Kenjonbro via Creative Commons

Was the election of police commissioners a mistake?

The tension between senior police officers and their elected masters has spilled over into the political arena after reports of chief constables being bullied out of their jobs and complaints of misuse…
Police will interview suspects following the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby but how they do it is important. PA/Dominic Lipinski

The psychology of interviewing suspects, from Woolwich to Boston

There are strong parallels to be drawn between last week’s Woolwich murder and the Boston bombings in April, and not just because of the terrorism connection. The subsequent shooting and hospitalisation…
Is it reasonable to expect juries to spend the time needed to check police transcripts against the audio when lawyers themselves do not? Shutterstock/Everett Collection

Covert recordings as evidence in court: the return of police ‘verballing’?

Today, we take it for granted that police interviews with suspects will be electronically recorded and independently transcribed. That hasn’t always been the case. Police were once allowed to testify…
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, Families Minister Jenny Macklin and Prime Minister Julia Gillard have announced the royal commission’s terms of reference. AAP/Stephanie Flack

Explainer: royal commission into child sex abuse

The terms of reference for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse were released this afternoon in Sydney. In speeches that emphasised the need to acknowledge the experiences…
Police claim that Tasers save lives, but the reality is that they facilitate excessive use of force and police brutality. AAP /April Fonti

Tasers in the spotlight – comforting myths and shocking realities

“These weapons save lives. We never said they were toys.” – NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione Damning coronial findings and confronting media footage have put police use of Tasers in the spotlight…
The ability of the police to collect images of protesters is set to be challenged in Victoria. sidkid

Private eyes: how far can police surveillance go?

Most of us value our privacy. But in Australia, despite recommendation after recommendation that we reform the law to protect citizens from serious invasions of privacy, there is often little protection…
No independent studies have examined the safety of Tasers on diverse populations.

Why the taser-related death toll is rising

The death of 21-year-old Brazilian national, Roberto Laudisio Cruti, on a Sydney street after being tasered by police has ignited questions about the safety and police use of these weapons. Tasers, the…
Occupy protestors have a right to protest; police powers to move them on from public spaces should be questioned. RynChristophe/Youtube

Moving right along: what powers do police have to ‘move-on’ protestors?

When police removed a young woman’s “tent dress” this week at the Occupy Melbourne encampment, it was yet another controversial interaction between protesters and authorities. As shown in the Occupy movement…
The Police Association of Victoria fought hard and smart to ensure they won a payrise promised to them during the 2010 election campaign. AAP/Julian Smith

The thin blue bottom line: how Victoria’s police re-defined public pay battles

The Police Association of Victoria recently secured a pay rise of nearly 19 per cent over four years for its members. Lessons drawn from the Police Association’s success should bolster the bargaining power…
Police dragged protestors away from the Occupy Melbourne protests one by one. AAP/Julian Smith

#OccupyMelbourne - an eyewitness account of overwhelming police force

I received a text message on Friday morning from a friend at the Occupy Melbourne protest at City Square, saying that the protesters were about to be forcibly evicted. From my time in City Square the previous…
English police have defended their tactics in the riots. AFP/Leon Neal

Police anger after they cop the blame for English riots

English police officers have defended their handling of the riots which erupted in several cities across the country last week. After the worst urban disorder in living memory, leading politicians are…
Bikie gang members in Adelaide last year protesting about laws aimed at breaking their organisations. AAP

National bikie gang laws: the wrong approach

Police across Australia have called for a uniform national law to deal with what they say is a severe criminal threat by outlaw motorcycle gangs. The law would be similar to legislation in South Australia…

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