The Guardian October 10, 2001


Rooting around in the NSW Police

by Marcus Browning

Peter Ryan, the NSW Police Commissioner, was recruited by the Carr 
Government from the London Police in 1996, supposedly to clean up the 
force. His arrival came at the conclusion of a royal commission into 
corruption inside the NSW Police which had partly exposed what might be 
called endemic corruption. Now a three-year secret investigation of 300 
police officers has resulted in 100 of them being asked to "please explain" 
their connections to known criminals, the distribution of cocaine and 
ignoring certain aspects of murder inquiries.

"I said at the time [1996] that if police were corrupt I would be coming 
after them", said Ryan last week. "Well, I fully intend rooting out 
corruption." Not the wisest choice of verb.

Nonetheless, the real purpose of Ryan's recruitment by the Carr Government 
was not to sack corrupt coppers but to put the privatisation of policing in 
motion and to oversee the introduction of draconian zero tolerance policing 
methods in the State.

User-pays is now the norm for the policing of public events, creating a 
"competitive" environment with the burgeoning private security industry, an 
industry that Ryan has formed a special relationship with.

Just as in health, local government and other services public, policing is 
being opened up to 'competition and integration within the public sector. 
So perhaps it should not come as a surprise that the integrity of a 100 
officers is now in question or that some of the top brass are clearly 
feeling a little edgy.

Premier Bob Carr, Ryan, Police Minister Paul Whelan, and no doubt others 
near the top of the police hierarchy, announced that they were stunned, 
shocked, staggered and generally surprised by the revelations.

The Police Association described the developments as "absolutely 
heartbreaking for cops. It's very deflating".

Ryan has knocked off a number of experienced officers, including most 
recently his Deputy Commissioner, Jeff Jarratt, who has been appearing 
before the Police Integrity Commission giving evidence in relation to 
certain allegations about the body set up to get the bad guys, the Crime 
Management Support Unit. 

Jarratt's description of Ken Seddon, another London Police recruit who was 
brought in to set up the unit, went thus: "Ken was, I can only say, 
offensive to a range of officers and exceedingly defensive about questions 
asked by other officers." Well, he would be, wouldn't he?

During the three-year investigation the police used surveillance, listening 
devices and phone taps. The inquiry is set to continue for about 12 months. 
But will heads roll even then?

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