Police urged to oppose powers

by Chris Griffith
Published 26 May 1996 in The Sunday Mail


my face


Police union officials should join civil libertarians and oppose the misuse of search and seizure powers, the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties said yesterday.

Council president Ian Dearden was responding to the union's outrage last week at the CJC's raid of police union headquarters on Tuesday.

The CJC searched union offices for documents demanded by the Carruthers Inquiry into the Memorandum of Understanding between the union and the Coalition.

Mr Dearden yesterday said the episode had created a dilemma for police, who had been misusing search and seizure powers for decades.

The police union traditionally has advocated increased arrest, detention, electronic surveillance and search powers. But already the raid has had a sobering effect on some officials.

Union deputy president Sgt Merv Bainbridge said: "Having been through the experience, it makes you think.

"I've never been concerned in the past with certain things police have done. It's great until it happens to you. It's great to pull up motorists and search them, but it's different when you're on the receiving end of the process and you're innocent."

He said the CJC even searched the personal effects -- the briefcase and wallet -- of president Gary Wilkinson. He regarded the debate on increasing police powers as "a very vexing question". "It needs a proper warrant and a proper reason - a bit more than suspicion."

Mr Dearden said it was "ironic" the police union was interested in the misuse of search and seizure powers. "With the boot on the other foot, they're doing nothing more than what we've been doing for years.

In its submission to the CJC's 1994 police powers review, the union argued for the right of police to search premises without a warrant. "It is suggested that police be given a statutory authority similar to that ... of the Drugs Misuse Act which provides power to enter without warrant if there is a likelihood of property being concealed or disposed of," the submission said.

by Chris Griffith