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Analysis and Comment (40)

Chemical weapons could be making a stealthy comeback. 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. 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. 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…
Mourners at the funeral of Michael Brown on August 25. Mourners at the funeral of Michael Brown on August 25. St.Louise Post-Dispath/Pool/EPA

Epidemic of rights abuse fails black kids across the US

As the world grapples with the containment of diseases such as Ebola, there is another epidemic that demands attentive responses, policies, and actions. It is one of grave proportions regarding the violation…
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. 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. 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. 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…
Suspects are protected - but what about victims and witnesses? Suspects are protected - but what about victims and witnesses? Image via Shutterstock

Anonymity for serious child criminals is not fair on the accused or the victim

A campaign is at large to secure statutory anonymity for all young people under 18 who are accused of crime. Lawyers, criminologists, judges, sociologists, academics, and politicians are in on it. It is…
A bit of ‘territorial support’ from the thin blue line. 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. 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. 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 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…
A violent clash last year at Sydney’s Mardi Gras raised old questions about the complex relationship between police and LGBTQI communities. A violent clash last year at Sydney’s Mardi Gras raised old questions about the complex relationship between police and LGBTQI communities. AAP/Toby Mann

Police violence against Mardi Gras revellers reminds us of an intolerant history

Hundreds of thousands of people will be drawn to Sydney’s Mardi Gras festival this weekend. This world-famous event celebrates gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, intersex (LGBTQI) and other sexually…
Police lead away members of the Drax coal train protest group. 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…
Keys not cuffs. Keys not cuffs. Banspy

Police cells are no place for mental health patients

It is no secret that mental health services are in a sorry state. Last year saw lots of stories about the increased pressures being placed on treating people in the community and on beds in mental health…
‘Susan’, a trafficked sex worker - one of a minority, research has suggested. ‘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…
Gloomy outlook for free speech. Gloomy outlook for free speech. ucloccupation

Policing on campus is a brazen attack on free speech

Relations between student protesters and police in universities have broken down. From demonstrations demanding that “cops stay off campus” to protests against the heavy-handed way in which students have…
Policing in the UK appears to be benefitting from commissioners. 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…
Bandidos bike gang member Jacques Teamo, who faced court after last week’s Broadbeach brawl. Bandidos bike gang member Jacques Teamo, who faced court after last week’s Broadbeach brawl. AAP

The great bikie beat-up: why we shouldn’t confuse crime lords with boofheads on bikes

Australia has two types of bikies: Conservatives and Radicals. The Conservative lifestyle involves riding big bikes, drinking a lot, punching your mates and enemies, then falling over and sleeping it off…
Tanking’s too good for ‘em. 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. 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. 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? 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. 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. 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…
Convicted sex offender Gerard Ridsdale arrives at court in Ballarat, Victoria in 1994. Convicted sex offender Gerard Ridsdale arrives at court in Ballarat, Victoria in 1994.

Royal Commission into child abuse must have powers to investigate police

The terms of reference of the Gillard Government’s Royal Commission into institutional child abuse are yet to be determined. When the commission was announced, the Prime Minister noted that it would need…
Gay sex is no longer illegal in Australia? So why should historica convictions stand? Gay sex is no longer illegal in Australia? So why should historica convictions stand? AAP/April Fonti

Wiping the slate clean: historic convictions for gay sex must be expunged

Most of the current media relating to gay rights focuses on marriage equality. But for some older gay men, another issue is even more important. Sex between consenting men ceased to be a crime in Australia…
The ability of the police to collect images of protesters is set to be challenged in Victoria. 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. 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. 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…
Indonesian police chief Timur Pradopo has dismissed payments from Freeport McMoran as “pocket money”. Indonesian police chief Timur Pradopo has dismissed payments from Freeport McMoran as “pocket money”. AFP/Bay Ismoyo

Bribes and bullets: Police corruption linked to violence at the world’s biggest mine

President Barack Obama is being urged to raise human rights abuses with the Indonesian President during his visit to Bali. Indonesia is a key ally of the US, now America’s security focus has shifted to…
The Police Association of Victoria fought hard and smart to ensure they won a payrise promised to them during the 2010 election campaign. 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. 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. 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. 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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