WA police no longer allowed to refer to race

Unbelievable. news.com.au reports:

WA POLICE have defended their policy of banning ethnic or religious words to describe offenders after it was attacked by the Police Union as ‘ gone mad’.

The policy, a direct order from Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan, means officers can no longer use details such as a suspect’s nationality, race or religion when seeking public help.

Instead, they have been told to say if the person is light or dark skinned.

Are they allowed to still describe the gender?

WA Police are standing by their policy, saying many people don’t actually know what people of different nationalities look like.

“More general descriptors limit the chances for people to make error,” WA Police Media spokesman Samuel Dinnison says.

“People have different terms of reference and if we narrow investigations down to specific race, the person may have gotten it wrong and that may limit an investigation. Narrowing it down too much can be detrimental to an investigation.”

Yes some witnesses may not get the ethnicity right. But some may. Surely the sensible thing to do is use specific ethnicities when the witnesses are certain, and use more general terms when they are not.

Also from what I can tell, even if CCTV footage showed the offenders, the Police would still refuse to refer to their ethnicity. Incredible stupidity.

WA Police Union president Russell Armstrong wants the rule overturned, arguing that using “scant descriptions” makes it harder to catch criminals. …

One police insider said the policy had prevented the capture of suspects.

“These rules don’t give a true indication of who police are looking for,” the source said.

“There is a big difference between a dark-skinned person being Aboriginal or African. And if we are looking for an Asian person-of-interest it’s a bit narrow to describe them as simply having fair skin and dark hair.”

Exactly. One might not be sure if they are Korean or Chinese (for example), but would be sure they are Asian.

Other states, such as Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory use the nationally agreed ANZPAA policy which limits the description categories to broad groups including Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander, Asian, Middle-Eastern or Caucasian appearance unless there has been a positive identification of the nationality of a person described.

That seems far more sensible.

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