Unlawful detention by police: young people tell their stories

Alarming accounts of young people being unlawfully arrested and detained by the NSW police were aired by the ABC this morning. 

These young people are part of a class action brought by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and Maurice Blackburn as a result of a systemic problem with the NSW Police computer system.

‘These accounts graphically show how important it is to for the police to exercise their powers with caution,’ said Edward Santow, CEO of PIAC.

Radio National’s Background Briefing today broadcast the stories of several young people who had been wrongfully arrested and held, sometimes overnight, for allegedly breaching bail conditions. However, these young people, some of whom were as young as 13 at the time, were arrested, detained and often imprisoned overnight as a result of inaccurate or out-of-date information on the NSW Police computer system known as COPS (Computer Operational Policing System).

‘For many years, we have been calling on the NSW Police to fix their computer system and compensate the victims,’ said Edward Santow.‘These young people speak very powerfully about the injustice they have suffered and the profound impact it has had on their lives.

‘One young person was arrested, handcuffed and strip-searched on three separate occasions over a two-week period. He was held in custody overnight each time. Even though he was 14, NSW Police did not contact his mother.

‘This injustice is traumatic for the young people involved. But it can also fuel animosity and mistrust between young people and the police, and that is bad for the whole community.

‘The NSW Police need to address this problem, and do so openly and as a matter of priority. This is crucial in restoring the community’s trust in the Police and our bail system,’ Edward Santow said.

MEDIA CONTACT: PIAC Senior Media Officer, Gemma Pearce, 0478 739 280. Photo: Flickr/Publik16

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