Wednesday, September 19, 2007

APEC Update

I have been waiting for the fallout from the APEC protest confrontations. While bigger political stories have swamped the issue it is starting to filter through now.

Seven protests about police conduct during APEC, ranging from "rudeness to excessive force", were received, the Ombudsman, Bruce Barbour, in Sydney.

I guess the good news is that both sides modified their behaviour, although it was the security authorities who talked up violence and they are the ones being called on to answer now.

Police identification badges was shaping up to be a major issue until:

An investigation into dozens of police not wearing name tags during Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation protests has found there were "real concerns and risks with pin-backed ID tags, which could be used to compromise the safety of officers".

Then I came across - Talk it out – a blogger with better resources than me. While the NSW police commissioner, Andrew Scipione, was pushing the pins argument the erstwhile Talk it Out was studying the photos of the scene.

Have a look at the black patch in the photo. That is the Velcro tape used to attach the ID badge. Police and security identification is one of those trigger issues for me. Even law abiding wimp that I am, that identification goes to the heart of security and policing.

For me the issue became a factor before I headed off to North America half a dozen years ago. I was advocating, here in Port Macquarie, on behalf of a bloke being bullied by local pub thugs (or security personnel). It should be said that some of the thugs were either serving police, former police.

Fortunately the regions licensing sergeant was equally concerned about cowboy approach to venue security in the area. Between us we researched the legislation on identification, to the degree of seeking hypothetical court rulings (none of the victims were likely to face court to prove the position).

What we were finding was that security people were wearing identity badges on their socks, under a jacket, on a belt; anywhere it was obscured. Under NSW law police and security personnel are required under law to wear clear identification where it can be easily seen.

Scipione is facing a bigger test than the one I tried on here. We know private security thugs are a different issue. How can we have faith in official law enforcement if police cannot abide by the same laws they are enforcing?

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