A responsive Commissioner

I criticise the Police when they deserve it. For over a decade I’ve been critical of how they (don’t) prosecute electoral law offences and have called for that power to be removed from them. And the failure to promptly disclose that there had been complaints about the Roast Busters members previously was a massive fail for them.

However the details of this story in the Herald are grounds for praise, not criticism, of the Commissioner.

The Herald reports:

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall – whose department is under fire for its handling of the Roast Busters affair – today personally phoned a man who has been publicly criticising the police over the matter. …

Mr Marshall called the person because they had lodged a complaint via the police website on Thursday in relation to police behaviour at Police National Headquarters. The person had provided their full name, address and phone number, the spokeswoman said.

“The Police Commissioner and other executive members are provided with copies of relevant expressions of praise or complaints and the Commissioner often personally follows up the matters raised with individuals, if they have supplied their contact details”, the spokeswoman said.

I think there are three things worth praising here.

  1. That feedback on the Police that people provide through the Police website actually goes to the Commissioner and Executive – not just to some PR flunky
  2. That the Commissioner will actually respond personally to a serious complaint, rather than be an out of touch desk jockey
  3. That the Commissioner was working on a Sunday

I wish more leaders would do that.

The man – who comments on Russell Brown’s Public Address blogsite under the username Kracklite – has over the last week criticised the police as an “organised pack” of misogynists with a “very sick culture” who had destroyed the public’s trust in them.

This afternoon, after criticising Mr Marshall’s performance when he was interviewed on television’s Q+A earlier today, he posted that Mr Marshall had just phoned him directly.

“I hung up immediately when he identified himself,” the man posted.

That’s rather rude. Maybe he got a bit paranoid and thought the call was in relation to his pseudo-anonymous comments on Public Address, rather than his filling in an official Police feedback complaint form – but if he hadn’t hung up immediately then he could have discovered that.

“Given the serious allegations in this particular complaint, the Commissioner phoned the individual, using the contact information they had supplied, in order to discuss the matter further. The Commissioner only got as far as identifying himself before the individual hung up, saying he did not want to speak to him further.”

Why fill in a complaint form making serious allegations, and providing your contact details, if you don’t want a response?

The Police have not handled the Roast Busters saga at all well. I certainly have several questions about why they didn’t take other action against the youths, short of prosecution. The IPCA report will be most interesting, and there are legitimate questions over the Police culture.

But I don’t believe in beating up on the Commissioner for being responsive to a complaint, as some were doing on Twitter yesterday. Marshall is known to be very popular with the rank and file Police because he isn’t cloistered at Police HQ, but actually gets out and about. His phone call is part of that style.

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