LGBTI community organisations support calls for independent investigation agencyLGBTI community organisations support calls for independent investigation agency

Some of NSW’s leading LGBTI community organisations have delivered a petition to NSW MPs calling for the establishment of an independent agency to investigate complaints against police.

The petition, handed to members of the NSW Parliamentary LGBTI Cross Party Working Group, follows comments from NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione supporting the creation of an organisation like the UK’s Independent Police Complaints Commission. The Commissioner’s statement was in reaction to ongoing revelations at the NSW parliamentary inquiry into police bugging.

The petition was originally launched in April 2013 by the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL), Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, the Inner City Legal Centre (ICLC) and LGBTI health agency ACON as a response to allegations of heavy-handed policing during the 2013 Mardi Gras as well as ongoing LGBTI community concerns over the use of drug dogs and search procedures at parties.

The joint petition aimed to force a parliamentary debate on the legislative framework governing complaints about police conduct in NSW. Hundreds of signatures were gathered to support the establishment of an independent complaints body to investigate police conduct.

Recent media coverage regarding NSW police handling of LGBTI cases in the late 1980s and early 1990s has reignited calls for more effective oversight of police activities. Last month the Sydney Morning Herald published a story about Alan Rosendale, the victim of a gay assault that was possibly perpetrated and subsequently covered up by police. There is also evidence to suggest that other gay hate crimes from the same period may also have been mishandled by police.

NSW GLRL Co-Convenor Dr Justin Koonin said the petition is a critical part of a broader response to concerns that the LGBTI community has raised in relation to how police investigate complaints against police.

“The current system, whereby police often investigate cases of alleged misconduct themselves, appears inconsistent with principles of natural justice, transparency and accountability. Given recent events, it seems timely to now hand over the petition to our advocates in the NSW Parliament so they can raise our concerns with their parliamentary colleagues.”

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