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Law enforcement agencies must do better to maintain public confidence

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08.06.2019

The rule of law is only as strong as the investigation and prosecution policies of our law enforcement agencies to uphold it.

Recent events such as WorkSafe Victoria’s decision not to pursue high-profile bullying allegations by a former senior fire officer and this week’s Australian Federal Police searches of media organisations, should prompt a discussion about how state and federal law enforcement bodies generally can improve the way they address the public’s interest in how they apply their own policies.

Acting AFP Commissioner Neil Gaughan talks about the recent raids on the media.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

As a nation of laws, our ability to access courts of justice and invoke the law to defend ourselves and vindicate our rights are the measure of our democratic maturity and enlightened concept of representative and responsible government.

We can see the law. We can attend nearly all proceedings in our courts and tribunals and we can read their decisions and reasons. In all of this, there is an unyielding level of public scrutiny in recognition of our right to know and satisfaction, sometimes unavailingly, of public expectations.

But there is an enormous part of our justice system we do not see as much or at all. Yet, that part of our justice system exerts as much influence on our lives as the courts and tribunals that exist to interpret and apply the law.

Law enforcement agencies across our country all have policies they have formulated to guide them in what, who, how and when to investigate or prosecute matters in our courts. Some agencies are........

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