Monday, May 20, 2024

NT corruption commissioner says evidence suggests police awards were racist

The Northern Territory’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC), Michael Riches says new evidence from NT Police members suggests awards handed out by the elite police Territory Response Group (TRG) were racist towards First Nations people.

Making a rare public statement, Mr Riches said he was satisfied that it was in the public interest to speak out.

“I will rarely comment publicly on ongoing investigations. In this case, I have decided to do so in order to obtain assistance from persons who have information relevant to the investigation,” he said.

The Commissioner said he had yesterday been briefed on evidence collected as part of Operation Beaufort, regarding allegations of improper conduct within the TRG.

“That evidence further supports the allegation that, in past years, awards have been issued within the Territory Response Group that are racist towards First Nations people. I have formed that view based upon the material I have been shown and the language used in that material. I express no view about who participated in those awards and who had knowledge of them. It is premature to do so,” he said.

“…in light of that evidence my investigation will now consider all awards issued in the period from 2007-present, and the circumstances in which those awards were given.”

The Commissioner extended an invitation to current and former police officers with first-hand information to come forward.

“These are serious matters, and they need to be addressed without delay. Those involved need to take responsibility and be a part of the process to address these matters. Such occurrences must never be allowed to occur in the future,” he said.

“It is not in the public interest that these issues be drawn out over numerous months, with defensive and combative positions taken by those who have information relevant to the investigation.

“In an effort to get to the truth of these matters and to do so without delay, I state as follows.

“A current or former police officer who voluntarily provides truthful information to my office relevant to this investigation will not be the subject of an adverse finding under the ICAC Act.

“A current or former police officer who voluntarily provides truthful information to my office relevant to this investigation will not be the subject of a referral to NT Police for potential disciplinary action.

“A current or former police officer who voluntarily provides truthful information to my office relevant to this investigation will not be named in a public statement or report for which I am responsible.”

He said the above does not extend to current or former officers:

  • whose conduct may amount to criminal conduct
  • who may have deleted documents or information from NT Police systems that relate to the subject matter of this investigation.

“I ask that current or former police officers who have first-hand information relevant to my investigation make contact with my office before COB 5 April 2024.”

Contact is to be made via email icac.executive@icac.nt.gov.au or via telephone 1800 250 918.  You will be advised of the process for providing further information.

“Let me be clear.  If you have information, this is your opportunity to come forward. Please take advantage of this opportunity,” said Mr Riches.

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