It was just a short question on the Beeliar Community noticeboard … “how do you feel about police” … and it unravelled a huge discussion, and led us to prepare a survey that ended up being filled in by more than 200 people. It captured some of the community attitudes towards police that came out of the protests to stop clearing work in the lead up to the WA state election.
We have been working with the Beeliar Legal Support team and Wetland Defenders on a comprehensive report documenting more than twenty incidences of breaches of police protocol and arguably unlawful use of force, as well as patterns of human rights abuses and a culture of aggressive policing. The report will be launched shortly, however we want to share the survey results with the community first.
There are numerous interesting insights about the diversity and professions of people participating – and as was expected the extraordinary percentage of women being represented was more than 70%.
The evidence of a culture of violence, hostility and a resulting lack of trust however, is frankly overwhelming. It has actually been incredibly tough work, and taken many weeks. If you think this work is worthwhile and want to support volunteer efforts to support police accountability, please pitch in here.
Y0u can also contact Police Minister Michelle Roberts and request an independent investigation.
Community survey of responses to police – CounterAct April 2017(19 pages with images)
MEDIA STATEMENT REGARDING SURVEY – Herald article here.
The report will be launched shortly, however we want to share the survey results with the community first, which will inform the report.
The survey was coordinated by the Beeliar Legal Support team with oversight from a Curtin university researcher. Over 200 responses were received from people who attended the protest site. We are sending a copy of the full survey and report to local members Simone McGurk and Peter Tinley.
“We hope they will be supporting our call for a thorough investigation into policing of the Beeliar protests. With the election of an ALP government and a new police commissioner to be announced in the coming months, this represents an opportunity to re-write the way police engage with nonviolent community protest.
“The survey indicates a disturbing loss of trust that has been experienced by the community, and a deep level of concern regarding the violence that was witnessed and experienced,” stated Nicola Paris, Beeliar Support Legal Team “I witnessed the fear and shock that ordinary local residents showed when Police Officers carrying out their duties exercised their powers to control a very well behaved group of citizens. The use of force escalated as the numbers of people who wished to protect the environment grew. Positive interactions between members of the police force and citizens decreased as the behaviour of police became increasingly more uncompromising and situations escalated as the State election drew closer, ” said Beeliar Legal Support team member, and Fremantle resident Christine Duckham.
Of particular concern is the lack of trust survey respondents shared regarding their children’s experience with police.
The survey is part of a report to be launched next week which will detail a range of critical incidences we believe highlight a pattern of over policing and violent behaviour, as well as culture of disrespect for community activists. The reports findings have been supported by the National Police Accountability Network, Rethink the Link and Friends of the Earth Australia.
Inquiries: info [at] counteract.org.au