Police are warning they may not be aware of their duties when they’re investigating crime, and they may need to take extra caution when handling evidence.
Key points:Police are being advised to be aware that the department has a duty to check evidence, including CCTV footage, to ensure it matches a suspect or suspect description.
But the department’s duty to investigate does not extend to making sure that suspects or suspects descriptions match police officers.
“It’s not always clear whether that information is available or not,” Detective Superintendent Ian Walker said.
“The information we do have is not always appropriate, but that’s not to say that we don’t know it or we shouldn’t have it, it’s just not the only way.”
Police are now being advised that the Department of Justice (DoJ) has developed guidelines to guide officers when handling the evidence that they receive.
Assistant Commissioner Shane Morrissey said the guidelines were an effort to improve policing in NSW, and the department was working with the DoJ to develop guidelines to make sure the guidelines are implemented.
“I think it’s important for police officers to understand what their responsibilities are and what they can do to ensure that they are not putting themselves in situations where they don’t have all the information,” Mr Morrissey told reporters.
“We’ve taken a lot of steps in the last couple of years to try and get better at ensuring that officers are taking all the steps necessary to ensure they are properly carrying out their duties.”‘
The duty to protect’If you’re looking for an example of the dangers of police officers not being fully informed, look no further than the case of an officer who was caught on camera doing a number of things he should have been doing.
The officer, whose identity has been suppressed, is accused of unlawfully searching the vehicle of a man who was allegedly in the vicinity of the alleged stolen goods.
In a statement, the NSW Police Service said the officer acted in accordance with a police policy which requires officers to search vehicles, including in public areas, to determine if any goods are present.
“A number of officers have been charged for failing to perform their duties, including two officers who were suspended from duty for engaging in misconduct, and one officer who resigned from the NSW Service in June,” the statement said.
Police said the footage shows that the officer did nothing illegal, and that he is not accused of any crime.
But his actions could be considered illegal if they result in a criminal conviction.
“Officers do have the duty to prevent and investigate crime, including any offences that may result in criminal proceedings, and are subject to prosecution,” the NSW police statement said, adding that it would “work with the court to ensure the integrity of criminal proceedings”.
The statement said the department would be undertaking “immediate remedial measures” to ensure “the integrity of the investigation and prosecution process”.
“The actions taken in this instance are a clear violation of the law,” the police statement read.
“If any evidence is presented to the court, and it is found that an officer breached this duty, the evidence would be considered and, if appropriate, taken to court.”
If you have any information that may assist police, contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit crimestoppers.com.au.