Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre
Victoria Police Response to Racial Profiling
After many years of relentless campaigning by community, legal and human rights groups, Victoria police have launched a three year action plan to address community concerns about discriminatory policing.
"It's the outcome of everything we've been fighting for, and it kind of justifies what we've fought for," Maki Issa - ABC News (31/12/13)
Victoria Police have released a report into the historic inquiry into racial profiling and launched a 3 year action plan to address community concerns about discriminatory policing and racial profiling.
The 'Equality is not the same' report and two accompanying consultant reports are available on the Victoria Police website here and below.
'Learning to Engage' A review of Victoria Police Cross-Cultural Training Practises Dec 2013 (PDF)
The 6 month Inquiry in 2013, the result of a settlement as part of the Haile-Michael Federal race discrimination action, has resulted in some key community recommendations being adopted including Australia's first trial of stop and search receipting, monitoring of who is being stopped by police, policy reforms concerning police field contacts, and substantial reform of cross cultural training provided within Victoria Police.
The 'Equality is not the same' report includes recommendations to:
- Review and amend field contact policy so they do not lead to racial profiling, including the definitions of “reasonable suspicion and “high crime locations”, as well as the education of all police members on the revised policy and practices,
- Amend the Victoria Police Manual so it directs members to inform individuals the reason why they were stopped, and to develop a trial of receipting which requires members to document the details of each contact.
- Collect aggregated data on field contacts to monitor whether they are being applied disproportionately, and to develop processes for independent review of this data monitoring,
- Establish stakeholder advisory groups to provide advice and guidance to Victoria Police on the development of policy, processes, data collection requirements and community engagement initiatives,
- Review and evaluate training to ensure that ongoing cross-cultural training for all serving officers, and
- Create education material on understanding and recognising unconscious bias and how it impacts on operational decision making.
Smart Justice for Young People have provided a short statement on the outcomes.
The launch prompted another significant editorial from The Age which stated; “There are six people in particular who deserve lasting gratitude: the young African-Australian men who courageously and tirelessly sought justice for what they rightly saw as a threat to their basic rights.” We heartily agree.
Further details and more detailed responses will be made available on this page soon.
About the Racial Profiling Inquiry
This historic inquiry and community consultation is the result of a settlement between six courageous young men and Victoria Police as part of the Haile-Michael Federal race discrimination action.
Individuals, organisations and agencies affected by racially discriminatory policing made a total of 70 submissions to the consultation. Ten of these are available for viewing via the Victoria police website here.
The Legal Centre and law Firm Arnold Bloch Liebler made a comprehensive 132-page submission that sets out the key strategies required for genuine change and compliance with human rights and is available here.
An overwhelming majority of the community submissions called for significant changes in Victoria Police field contact practices and to current training programs. All of the submissions viewed by us have clearly recommended stop and search receipting to be introduced with data collection and monitoring along with enhanced and specific anti-racism and racial profiling training.
In discussing the inquiry Chief Commissioner Ken Lay was quoted as saying: “This is almost a new start for us. Never before have the Victoria Police consulted so widely with the community about the way we engage.”
The Victoria Police inquiry into racial profiling and the resulting three year action plan represents a real hope for substantial reform and an end to racial profiling in Victoria, they are to be congratulated for conducted such a rigorous inquiry in such a short time frame.
Addressing racially discriminatory policing would substantially improve the way in which police work with newly arrived, immigrant and culturally diverse communities in Victoria and see a rise in community confidence, trust and respect for Victoria Police.
SUBMISSIONS TO THE 2013 INQUIRY
Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre, Arnold Bloch Leibler, lawyers and advisors, Jeremy Rapke QC, Emrys Nekvapil and Phoebe Knowles provided this substantial 132-page submission
The Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria's submission was 'made with a view to the specific concerns and needs Victorians of refugee and migrant background and members of culturally and linguistically diverse communities.'
The Fitzroy Legal Service made a submission focussing on field contact reports and complaints procedures.
Human Rights Law Centre made a submission entitled Human Rights in Police Stop and Search Practices.
Smart Justice for Young People made a submission entitled Safeguards Against Discriminatory Policing
Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service Co-Operative Limited made a submission informed by their 'long experience working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who have contact with the justice system'.
The Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission made a submission calling for a stop and search receipting pilot in an regional and metropolitan police region.
What we think needs to happen
Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre has outlined in detail the steps we believe will adequately address the problem of racial profiling. A complete copy of these steps for Victoria Police, the State Government and the community is available here.
Racial profiling must be specifically trained against – otherwise implicit racial stereotyping will occur. Policy must reflect the fact that racial profiling of any type is unlawful and contravenes basic human rights. Practise must ensure that any racial profiling be identified through statistical collection and a stop and search receipting system such as was implemented in the UK. Victoria Police would be required to collect demographic data, develop procedures to respond when racial bias appears, and develop policies to discipline officers who engage in the practice.
Finally, to clearly end the practise, the stage is set for Victoria to take the lead and introduce specific anti racial profiling legislation. Legislation would also create an enforcement mechanism to ensure that police anti-profiling policies are being followed and victims of profiling are able to seek redress. Unless racial profiling by law enforcement agencies is specifically made unlawful, as it is in other countries, incidents such as those that prompted the Haile-Michael case will occur again and again.
We owe it to the courage and tenacity of the six young men involved in this case that put an end to racial profiling once and for all.
Please contact the centre or sign up to our e-news for further information.
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A short video about the Victoria Police Inquiry:
You can hear Daniel Haile-Michal speak about his experiences of racial profiling and the reasons he originally took on the race discrimination case in this short video here. https://vimeo.com/62120677