Report says police heavy-handed, culturally blind

Lex Hall; 17/4/10

Police in remote communities are misusing their power and risk forcing violence and alcohol abuse underground if they don’t adapt to the indigenous world, a legal aid report has found. Residents complained of officers conducting rough searches without warrants or regard to sacred objects, interrupting ceremony to make arrests and on one occasion shooting a pet dog that had bitten a child. A survey of more than 330 residents in 14 communities found police appeared to be “on holiday” and were often unresponsive to reports of crime, including domestic violence. Led by the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency and the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Services, the report into community perceptions of police in remote communities under the federal intervention found “cultural awareness” among officers was “too narrow”.