A former chief commissioner has slammed Victoria Police after claiming modern officers are “too frightened” of making mistakes to be able to do their jobs properly.
Speaking on Miranda Devine Live on Wednesday, former top cop Kel Glare said officers in Victoria have lost sight of what they are there to do and suggested they actively avoid any risks in their day-to-day policing that may lead to criticism of the force.
Glare, who was Victoria’s police commissioner between 1987 and 1992, also called for a complete review into how things are done in Australia’s most densely-populated state.
The 80-year-old retired officer told Devine: “Victoria Police have become so frightened of making mistakes and so risk averse that they’ve actually lost sight of what they are there for.
“Policing doesn’t come with a guarantee that you won’t ever make a mistake, you won’t ever be criticised, those risks just have to be accepted.
“Ive been overseas and studied this very problem. Pursuits by police are dangerous, not chasing, in my mind, is just as dangerous.
“I believe we’re seeing in Victoria a failure of leadership, I’m sad to say.”
Host Devine labelled current Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Graham Ashton, who took over the top job in 2015, as “completely hopeless” and questioned why he has not stepped aside for a better candidate.
Glare responded by saying that, while the buck stops with Ashton, he does not believe the chief commissioner is entirely responsible for the problem, citing issues with the judicial system. He also questioned “how well he has been briefed”, given Ashton’s professional background in the Australian Federal Police, rather than community policing.
He said: “It’s not entirely a police problem. Our courts down here are so weak-kneed that it seems that no one ever gets a substantial sentence.
“When you have people who are convicted for the fourth or fifth or sixth time for a violent offence and they don’t get the maximum set by parliament, I believe that’s showing a real contempt for the parliamentary process.”
Columnist Devine compared the current crime rates in Victoria with those of New South Wales, stating that NSW “fixed their crime problem” allegedly giving the state its lowest crime rates on record while she described the Victorian’s as being “like frogs in boiling water when it comes to violent crime”.
According to official data, crime in Victoria dropped by more than 10 per cent between 2016 and 2017. However, assault crimes have risen by 16 per cent over the past five years and reports of armed African gangs terrorising homes and businesses have brought the state’s judicial and policing policies into the spotlight.
In January, Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton told Sydney radio station 2GB that people in Melbourne were “scared to go out at restaurants” at night because of African street gang violence and claimed Victorian courts weren’t doing enough to deter juvenile offenders.
Earlier this year, radio star Kate Langbroek also called for Melbourne’s streets to be cleaned up after a man attempted to carjack her babysitter outside her St Kilda home. Langbroek said she and her babysitter ran back to Langbroek’s house, but were followed by the man, who appeared “deranged” and tried to enter the house. Police soon turned up to remove the man, but Langbroek said the degradation of the area had to end.
Starts at 60 contacted Victoria Police in relation to this story, however they declined to comment.