Police were not neutral in the conflict between settlers and Aboriginal people; instead they provided military reinforcement for the forced expansion of white settlement, thereby presiding over the wholesale destruction of Aboriginal society. The thoroughness of the destruction of Aboriginal life effected with the help of Port Phillip’s police is attested to by the fate of its Native Police Corps. By the early 1850s, less than twenty years after the first police were sent to the district specifically to deal with the ‘Aboriginal problem’, there were so few Aboriginal people left that not only did the corps no longer have a reason to exist it was no longer even a
possibility, there were so few Aboriginal people left (Bridges 1971: 130).
KEEPING THE PEACE OR KEEPING PEOPLE
DOWN? POLICING IN VICTORIA
Dr Jude McCulloch
INTERVIEWS conducted by detectives at the St Kilda Road police complex will be videoed in a bid to stamp out police brutality and stop frivolous complaints by suspects.
Tenders have been called for the installation of the cameras in all interview rooms used by the crime squads and investigators.
The cameras will start rolling as soon as the door to a room is opened for an interview.
"It reduces the likelihood of any false allegations because you'll be able to just pull out the videotape to see and hear exactly what went on," police spokesman Sergeant David Spencer said yesterday.
"The cameras are going to be overtly mounted. There's nothing secret about it. Both the suspects and the members doing the interview will know it's there."
Unlike footage from cameras already used to record interviews by the homicide and drug squads, footage from the new cameras will not be used as evidence in court.
The new cameras will run continuously, except in certain circumstances. Sergeant Spencer said they could be shut down in cases where confidentiality was required.
The decision to introduce the new cameras also comes in the wake of secret recordings made of disgraced members of the disbanded armed offenders squad beating suspects during interviews.
The Office of Police Integrity made the recordings at the St Kilda Rd complex as part of its investigation into corrupt practices in the squad. It led to dramatic scenes at a public OPI hearing when an unsuspecting detective collapsed in the dock when confronted with a recording of him bashing a suspect.
Police Association secretary Paul Mullett said the union supported the installation of the cameras on the grounds that it protected members from frivolous complaints, but was suspicious about the motivation.
"We're supportive of them. The only criticism we have is that it should have been done sooner rather than later," Mr Mullett said.
"We understand that they had the funding and the equipment some time ago and it should have been installed as it arrived.
"It's a protection in terms of the judicial process for our members … but that equipment was available prior to the (OPI hearings). It was sitting around offices at St Kilda Road. As a matter of principle it should have been installed 18 months ago."