Letter: NSW Policing and the queer community

The Hon. Michael Daley
Attorney General

The Hon. Yasmin Catley
Minister for Police

Commissioner Karen Webb APM

All via webform

Dear Ministers and Commissioner,

RE: NSW Policing and the queer community

We write on behalf of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) to express concern about the alleged murder of a gay couple by a serving NSW Police Officer. This tragic case ought to cause you to pause and consider if the settings around policing in NSW are appropriately calibrated, especially in relation to the queer community. In our view, they are not and your urgent attention is required.

NSWCCL appreciates the accused person's right to silence, an important right which we will continue to defend. There are worrying aspects to this case based on the reporting to date. Principally, that the alleged murder was committed using a police firearm. We remain concerned by NSW Police Officers' access to lethal weapons. Given the gravity of the allegations made against a serving Police Officer, we call for NSW Police to be immediately stripped of all firearms except for in circumstances where police are confronted with a person with a firearm or immediate threats to physical safety in siege, hostage or terrorism contexts. We cannot understand why general duties Police Officers are able to gain access to lethal weapons. This practice must end.

NSWCCL further urges that the government call for an immediate independent inquiry into police use of force and access to weapons. NSW Police should remain disarmed of their firearms until, at least, the findings of any inquiry are delivered. All use of force must be scrutinised, particularly given that this is not an isolated incident.

Once again, NSWCCL calls for the practice of NSW Police being the main source of investigations into Police conduct to cease. The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission has made it clear that its oversight functions are insufficient. Police are never the appropriate vehicle through which to conduct inquiries into use of force and misconduct. For the public to maintain confidence in NSW Police, this practice must
end immediately. The LECC must receive a commensurate funding increase in order to ensure that it can conduct such investigations in the future.

Too many lives are lost at the hands of NSW Police. Too many people are injured at the hands of NSW Police. Enough is enough, the time to act is now.

A copy of this letter and any response will be made publicly available on our website.

Yours sincerely,

LYDIA SHELLY                        JOSH PALLAS
President                                 Past President