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|Cadet ID: 788|
|Association ID: 496|
My former Cadet colleagues, what an exciting concept – an engaging undertaking by Alan Webb and Bruce Howe to bring us together to reminisce about our NSW Police Cadet experience. Whilst we all walked the same paths, no two histories could ever be the same. I joined the Cadets in 1948 as a 14 year old, with my first day of service shortly after my 15th birthday on 4 January 1949. Eight of us joined on that memorable day at the old Bourke Street Depot: Trevor Blackman, Austin Brady, Bruce Durrant, Cuthbert Embleton Farnsworth, Donald Rae, Brian Rhoades, Graham Tarte and Oscar Taylor,.
I was by far the junior member of our group. Our scholastic achievement was that of the Intermediate Certificate, with the exception of Aus Brady, who on that day had received news of his successful passing of his Leaving Certificate.
Trevor Blackman resigned within the month over shorthand. Don Rae resigned and joined the Constabulary in
The Cadet Sergeants over my four year period were George Kellock, Jack Wright, Jack Gribble, Harry Trees and Arthur Lindgren. I have a high regard for all of them. My law lecturers were James Travis Lees and Charlie Barden. My shorthand instructors were Jack Hyslop (Cadet No. 27), Ron Gold, Joe Hall and Frank Smith. Understanding and compassionate, the lot of them. For physical training we endured Steve Engel, Jim Grainger and Roy Dykes and of the 14 Police mentioned, elected to train, discipline and develop the 120 young men in the years I was a Cadet, 58 years ago, Jim Grainger was the only one out of step. He was a brutal man, lacking sensitivity and out of his depth with young men. The only excuse I extend to him was on the occasion we ganged up on him and dunked him into one of those horse troughs.
Some of the senior Cadets in my time were Colin Wilson, Alan Handcock, Father Ted Collins (now the Bishop of Northern Territory), Jim Bannister, Don Tichenko, Ken Morris, Bob Page (Past Secretary of the Police Association), brothers Peter and Kevin Proud, Cec Johnson, Jim Unwin, Keith Dunlop, Bill Rossie and Kevin Jones. We were all required to attend the Depot in Bourke Street, Redfern every morning for physical training, shorthand and law. We were all contracted to achieve a level of shorthand skills and depending on the length of expected Cadet service, some were expected to achieve 100 words a minute and others 120 w.p.m. Many with a propensity for the ancient Pittman art went well beyond their speed requirement, left the Police Force and became competent court reporters. Three I recall were Doug McDonald, Frank Smith and Mick Stansfield.
In my subsequent role as a Police Prosecutor I found great pleasure watching and listening to a competent Police witness being cross-examined about his memory of an event or conversation, then to have his notebook called for and produced for inspection, only for counsel to discover a notebook full of shorthand. There was always something magic about shorthand in a Police notebook in forensic proceedings. It was a great tool in the right hand of a player in the game of judicial crap. Indeed, it was a game and there were many tricks to learn, many of them not for publication but a necessary tool in courtroom battles, matched only by the corresponding tools in the arsenal of defence counsel.
One of my many postings as a Cadet was for nine months at the
Our services as Police Cadets were utilized in most police stations throughout the metropolitan area, in specialized Branches, M.O. and Fingerprint Sections, Police Headquarters, mail runs, Superintendent’s Clerks, and it is difficult to contemplate a more diverse or multiskilled job than that of a professional police officer. At the end of the day, it mattered not what task you performed, the test was always, “Did you do your best to carry out your allotted task?”
Shortly I will celebrate my 74th birthday and I find it difficult to accept that the time has flown by so quickly. One thing that stands out in my mind is that you and I have not changed. We have grown old in unison – maybe we have put on some weight and hair turned grey but our mannerisms and personalities are the same. What has changed is the Police Force itself. Fifty-seven years ago there were only 4,000 police in
I see the New South Wales Police Force today as just another arm of the State Government. We have been on the slide now for a number of decades, becoming more and more ineffective. We are, in fact, a puppet force with the politicians pulling the strings. We can all give examples of the demise. I cite the Redfern riots four years ago as a most disgraceful exhibition of Police inaction and ineptitude. To view the police on television standing mute and allowing themselves to be pelted and belted with housebricks, Molotov cocktails and filthy abuse for a period of upwards of 8 hours was embarrassing and a disgrace. No one has the power to order police to accept this dangerous and unlawful conduct and then to take no immediate action, was well beyond all understanding. The police conduct or inaction was a breach of the old Police Regulation Act of “neglect of duty”. No one, not the Government nor any senior Police Officer can abrogate or take away the discretionary powers of a Constable. But someone did on that day and it was wrong. It was bad for morale, it was most dangerous to the police involved and it was unlawful. Any doubt about police being political puppets was removed on that frightening and shameful day at Redfern. I believe that one good reason for this disgusting saga of police ineptitude lies in the system of contractual employment of senior police. They are afraid to do what must necessarily be done to restore order for fear of political criticism that might affect their police careers.
Another sad day in my police experience was the day the decision was made to discontinue the Police Cadet Service. The decision though, was one of necessity brought about by the higher academic requirements set for entry into the Police Force. To reach this academic level, many young men were over 18 years of age on leaving school with insufficient time for training as a Cadet. What a pity, for I believe that the education and training given to a Cadet was of more beneficial development to a young man in preparation of his role as a useful and effective police constable, than the alternative that exists today.
Up to about 1970 I felt we were unified and reasonably successful and heading in the right direction as a Force but then under existing administration, the cracks appeared and the sap drained and the foundations began to crumble. A few of the Acts of Parliament giving Police strength and control over improper conduct were either repealed or had the sting taken out of the tail. I refer to the Consorting Act, Indecent Publications Act, prostitution, homosexual, vagrancy, language, offensive behaviour and drunkenness being subject to the criminal laws. There is now consideration being given to decriminalizing drug offences and suggestions that shoplifting is not to be considered akin to larceny. Recent news items advise me that it is possible that police will be issuing Infringement Notices for serious criminal offences, no arrests to be made and no fingerprinting of offenders. Am I being unkind when I suggest that perhaps these innovations will improve statistics on crime?
As a prosecutor for 26 years, I saw the burden of proof imposed on Police as nigh on impossible to attain and an increasing judicial desire to over-protect the accused to the abysmal neglect of the victims of crime. The over-used phrase that “Justice must not only be done but it must appear to be done” applies equally to the victims of crime as it does to the accused in the dock. If not, then maybe we should change the phrase and dismiss the ambiguity.
I have lectured organizations outside police circles and for many years I have criticized many aspects of the present laws that emasculate the capacity of Police to effectively investigate crimes. Firstly, there is the anachronistic obligation imposed on police to caution suspects “about their rights to remain silent”. It is difficult to explain to non-police people why it is that we who have been given the task to investigate a crime should have to say to the man with blood on his hands and a knife in his belt “you understand that you don’t have to say anything” when the only other person around is the dead individual on the ground with his throat cut. I do not believe that silence equates to innocence, particularly when an immediate explanation could be given that was suggestive of their non-involvement or lack of criminality in a matter that is under investigation.
Secondly, I am at a loss to understand why a modern and progressive judicial system continues to allow an accused person to make a statement from the dock or the floor of the Court, without being sworn, thus preventing his cross-examination and a testing of his veracity. The concept of dock statements was a privilege extended to the uneducated, the poor or unrepresented person, but despite these restrictive circumstances, in our short time we have seen Lionel Murphy, a former federal Attorney General and Judge of the High Court of Australia, and Murray Farquahar, former Chief Stipendiary Magistrate, making statements from the floor of the Court, in serious indictable matters on which they were being tried before a jury. Their statements were not on oath with the Crown being denied the right of normal cross-examination. Both persons were subsequently acquitted by the jury. I often wonder if the stolen paintings in Murray Farquahar’s possession, the subject of the trial proceedings, were returned to the owners, or did Farquahar retain possession in view of the jury’s finding.
Thirdly, the jury system is totally out of step with reality, extremely expensive and dangerously secretive, with, until recently, an absurd unanimous verdict required, when other States of Australia had a majority verdict to obtain a conviction. In the name of goodness and common sense, in view of the increasing complexity of the law today, how can you honestly expect rank amateurs, without any experience in matters of the law, to sit on a jury and absorb the facts, then make a unanimous decision of guilt or otherwise. And on top of this, I remind you that a felon, a convicted criminal, can serve on a jury when you or I as a former Police office are statutorily prevented from so serving. The wise decision makers would undoubtedly explain their reasoning that former Police could be biased, whereas a former felon would remain impartial. Ho hum!
Fourthly, I am reliably informed that we as Police, albeit retired, are persona non grata as Justices of the Peace and will shortly have to undergo an examination if we wish to continue holding our practicing J.P.’s certificate and that a fee of $25 will be imposed for re-accreditation.
No person involved in the administration of the law, be they Judge, Magistrate, lawyer, Police Officer or Johnny Citizen, could find any comfort or pleasure in the knowledge that truth plays an insignificant role in jury trials. Shock! Horror! at my temerity to utter or expound upon this reality. Too little time and space to extemporate upon this absurd procedure of an ancient ritual, devised by lawyers, presided over by lawyers, controlled by lawyers, for the advantage of lawyers, to the disgrace of lawyers, wherein truth forms only a small part of the equation. Do I hear the whispers of those who might be inclined to call me a cynic or am I entitled to draw a reasoned belief from my years in courts, working as a Police Prosecutor.
Evan Whitton, reknowned legal author and distinguished journalist, in his book titled “The Cartel” explores the conduct of lawyers and their nine magic tricks in trial proceedings. Their aim is to use the common law rules to their best advantage, or indeed, to the best advantage of their clients and not as one would reasonably assume, to use their professional skills to establish the truth of the prosecution’s allegations. What I am saying, and what Evan Whitton’s books is all about, is that the present system of trial by jury is seriously flawed and that maybe the European inquisitorial system where Judges ask the questions and control the Court proceedings, where truth becomes an integral part of the trial, where all witnesses are compelled to take the oath and no one can hide behind a wall of silence. One day the pendulum must swing in favour of society and a move made to increase confidence in our judicial system. I am not saying that the innocent should be convicted, but I extend the hope that more favourable procedures will be adopted to secure convictions of the guilty.
And my list of experiences indicative of the decline in police status and powers is nowhere exhausted. Time necessarily calls me to adjourn sine die. We should all be grateful to have had the experience of our police career, endured our period of service and survived. We might have suffered the pangs of sarcasm from colleagues about being a Cadet, or was it attempted levity, or were the remarks ignited by jealousy or incompetent tongues. I was a New South Wales Police Cadet, proud to have been one, advantaged by the experience and never one regret. May the memories never be erased. We are an important chapter in the history of