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Question: SAPOL General Orders

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Attorney on SAPOL general orders and, specifically, access to them under FOI and the police complaints and discipline processes.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The SAPOL general orders provide a SAPOL employee with instructions to ensure organisational standards are maintained consistent with SAPOL's vision. To this end, general orders are issued to assist that employee to effectively and efficiently perform their duties. Most orders are mandatory and must be followed. A summary of general orders that was able to be accessed by FOI states, and I quote:

It is important that an employee constantly bears in mind that the extent of their compliance with general orders may have legal consequences.

The consequences may well be in the Police Complaints and Discipline Act, or possibly through the courts more generally, where that comes to light. But it has come to my attention that where the courts have sought access to general orders—for example, general orders around the use of tasers in court cases of discipline of police officers for use of tasers—that request by the courts has been denied or not complied with.

I note that in other states general orders are generally available. In New South Wales they are available online. In Victoria they are available for purchase or loan through the Deakin Library

In Queensland they are available online. In WA you can view them at the State Library. In Tasmania they are available online and in the Northern Territory they are available online. In New Zealand they are available online. In Canada they are available online. In Northern Ireland, Hong Kong and in many other jurisdictions, the police general orders or the police handbook are available online to the public. My questions to the Attorney-General are:

1. Is it the Attorney's expectation that SAPOL should comply with requests, say, of the courts or the DPP, with regard to accessing specific general orders?

2. How many requests have been made by the courts for general orders that have been refused in the past 10 years?

3. How many queries and requests have been made under FOI in the past 10 years that have similarly been refused for these general orders?

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 questions. I am happy to take them on notice and see if there are records. I suspect there are not going to be records about applications that involve general orders specifically, but I am happy to go away and see if there are.

I think it's everyone's expectation that in our society all parties comply with orders of the court. I am not aware of the specific details of what the honourable member is talking about. It is not uncommon, though, for a decision of the court to then be challenged and to have a different decision on appeal, but I am happy to see particularly if there are figures and take it on notice for the honourable member.

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