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Independent calls for reforms to police services

As many know,, I was recently arrested without cause and deprived of my liberty, (video here) the outcome of which opened my eyes to a variety of abuses of our most basic civil and human rights by way of the actions of our police services..

When I was thrown into the rear of a police 4x4 paddy wagon (steel cage), I was an innocent man under South Australian law, and in fact it was proven that the arrest was unlawful, so how should I have been treated?

I was woken from my sleep at 7.30 on a Sunday morning, and was not dressed appropriately to be hauled away. At no time was a warrant shown to me, and I was denied the right to call my lawyer or even enjoy my morning relief, something that seems abusive from the onset.

In the back of the van. with my hands cuffed behind my back to the degree my shoulders were in pain and the cuffs were cutting my skin, I had no way of hanging on during the ride to the Elizabeth station, resulting in several painful injuries.

At no time did I refuse my arrest other than demanding to know why and to see a valid warrant, it appeared these questions resulted in increased aggression.

At this point we must question the law, as much as we should question the conduct of the officers involved. For my own safety the hand cuffs should have been removed, seat restraints or adequate padding to the enclosure in which I was held would be a step in the right direction in regards to my safety and my rights.

The cells in which I was placed were not heated, so I opted to be in the outside cells, in 5 degrees, because it was warmer there. It was here I met a man in custody on trifling matters, who did not even have shoes or socks on when arrested. He was shivering in the freezing conditions, yet not even a blanket was offered, let alone a pair of socks, something I found atrocious.

“Surely our Police have a duty of care when a person is in their custody that extends to ensuring their health and safety?”

The result of my dealing with SAPOL over the years makes it clear they are “long overdue for a huge dose of accountability”, and my recent unlawful arrest has only enforced this statement.

In recent years community expectations have been let down, with increasing complaints about their conduct and performance, from the alleged use of Quotas, placement of speed detection devices, to ignorance of people’s rights and liberties.

The police are in the public’s eyes at least, employed to protect our best interests, and that belief would include our civil rights and indeed our liberty. This should also include our most basic human rights, and that of justice and humility.

If an officer takes something from you and that action is found wanting, why should we be forced to sign a waiver of our rights before the return of our goods, which has become standard practice? If an officer breaks the law, why is it that the police are the ones that police themselves?

If the police defect a vehicle and get it wrong, why is the victim expected to cover the costs?

Accountability is not a one way street, if I break the law, I should be held to account, and the police themselves should lead by that example, not hide behind indemnity waivers, for their own self protection and gratification.

I personally know many good people that have joined our police force, and I genuinely respect their decision to take on such a role in the community is indeed an important and compassionate motive. It is those who direct their actions and write the legislation that need to be held to account.

"I seriously doubt any officer joins up in favour of raising revenue or ignoring our rights!"

Reforms to our police services are long overdue, to ensure their conduct is brought up to date with current community expectations, and this would best be achieved by an open and transparent parliamentary enquiry so every interested party can have their input.

A transparent public consultation process would also be a very effective way to access what the current community expectation is, in relation to police services.

“When justice in our courts becomes unaffordable for the majority, justice on our streets becomes essential”.

Mark Aldridge

Independent candidate for Wakefield

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