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Question: Police Complaints

(1) Question: Police Complaints - YouTube

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Section 46 of the Police Complaints and Discipline Act applies to members of the public and of the media. It is exceptionally broad and it criminalises the publication of information or material that may identify anyone involved with a complaint. That, of course, could be not just potential members of law enforcement but those who make the complaint or who were there at the time the complaint occurred. It has a penalty of up to $30,000 for a natural person and, less relevant to this particular question, $150,000 for a body corporate.

That section for its application requires, of course, the permission of the police commissioner to release information and authorise information about any complaint made to media and members of the public. On Wednesday 8 November, police commissioner Grant Stevens authorised the release of the footage showing two police officers dragging a man out the front door of a house and pinning him to the ground, but just 24 hours before the police commissioner and SAPOL had made a statement saying that they would issue no further information other than the written statement that they had previously provided.


That written statement, of course, allowed media to publish details of that particular southern suburbs' complaint. However, there is no written advice on the SAPOL website, so I ask the Attorney-General: when the police commissioner then further released the footage 24 hours later, with no further identification of what permissions were given, is it now an offence for members of the public to share that footage on social media or the like, or are they to know that they are now no longer subject to the operations of section 46 of the Police Complaints and Discipline Act?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for her question and her interest in this area. Certainly, the issue garnered significant media attention over recent days. In terms of the application and how it applies to media outlets, how it applies to private individuals, I will have to get some advice on that. I am happy to take it on notice and bring back quite a speedy reply.

Particularly since we are not sitting next week, if I can get some information about it before then I will undertake to the honourable member to get it to her before going through the process of the normal answering of questions in parliament, because it is an important question, and how people conduct themselves depends upon the interpretation of legislation. I am happy to get some advice and bring that back to the honourable member.

I do know, and I might add as well, that how the Police Complaints and Discipline Act works generally is the subject of a current inquiry being conducted by the Crime and Public Integrity Policy Committee of this parliament. Once they have finished their deliberations in relation to this, they will produce a report. I look forward to that report that might give some guidance as to the views of that committee on any possible changes in policy or legislation in this regard in the future.

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