Stamping out racially discriminatory police practices

Today brought very welcome news of a Victoria Police inquiry later in the year into their stop and search practices & cross cultural training.

This inquiry is part of the settlement of the race discrimination case in the Federal Court, initiated by six courageous young African men, who have been assisted by Flemington Kensington Community  Legal Centre.

The case relates to allegations from 2005 to 2009 by young men living around the Flemington and Kensington area of regularly being stopped by police for no legitimate policing reason, being subjected to racial discrimination, including assaults, racial taunts and abuse, and racial profiling are commonly made by other young people.

An analysis of data from the police LEAP database by Melbourne University Professor Ian Gordon, commissioned on behalf of the six men, found that:

  • African men around Flemington and North Melbourne were roughly 2.5 times more likely to have their interaction recorded by police than the rest of the population.
  • African men from the area committed significantly fewer crimes than men of any other ethnicity.
  • When dealing with African men, police were more likely to use terms such as “gang”, “no reason” and “move on”.
We also know many other young men of African back ground from other areas of Melbourne have similar experiences with police, however they may never make complaints either because there is not any independent, effective complaint system or because of fear of retribution.

Part of the historic agreement reached between Victoria Police and the young men involves an important Victoria Police inquiry that will examine Victoria Police policy on field contacts  (including their use of stop and search powers) and their cross-cultural training system.

We forward to working with Victoria Police to ensure we have a truly open, in-depth, comprehensive and effective review of racially discriminatory stop and search practices by Victoria police.

A public report will be prepared by the end of the year outlining proposed actions police will take in response to the inquiry.