‘This is pretty serious stuff’: Lawyer representing police brutality victims calls for body-camera overhaul
An experienced lawyer who represents many victims of police brutality has doubled down on his calls for new body-worn camera legislation to be introduced.
It comes after a damning report in The Age today suggested police can tamper with their body-worn cameras, deactivating them whenever they choose and editing footage before court cases.
Robinson Gill Lawyers principal solicitor Jeremy King said there isn’t enough legal oversight over police use of body-worn cameras.
“This is pretty serious stuff, interfering with pretty serious rights,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.
“My real concern with the cameras is the fact that the police have complete control over them, when they’re turned on, when they’re turned off, how they’re stored, when they’re exchanged.
“If you’re going to have all this stuff out there you want to make sure that there’s good strong laws governing how its used.
Currently, internal police rules govern the use of body-worn cameras.
“The police have got their own manual about when they can and can’t turn them on, but the problem with the Victoria Police Manual is its not the law,” Mr King said.
“So if something goes wrong no one can enforce their rights.”
On 3AW Breakfast this morning, police union head Wayne Gatt slammed the report in The Age, which Mr King was quoted in.
“I think what you’re looking at is another string of advertisements from The Age to support a legal firm who is making a living out of, I think, attacking police accountability,” he told 3AW’s Ross and John.
The lawyer fired back at police union boss over the comments.
“I think Wayne is completely wrong,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.
“Actually, a lot of the work that I do, and that my law firm does, in terms of arguing for a more robust complaints system … and more robust accountability, and a reduction in police misconduct, is actually bad for business.”
“It’s good for society, bad for business.”
Mr King also expressed concern about the storage of police footage, and the limited footage access granted to lawyers in legal cases.
“In my experience, often we’re not provided with the complete footage, we’re only provided with snippets or edits,” he said.
The experienced lawyer said he doesn’t think body-worn cameras mean the end of police misconduct.
“I’ve been told time and time again that each different type of footage is going to cure the problem of police misconduct. So there was footage in the cells, footage in the divvy vans, footage in the lobbies, but low and behold, I still see misconduct in all of those areas,” he said.
“I think some of them may have helped, but a lot of the time I still see people assaulted in the cells by Victoria Police. ”
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Image: John Keeble