Nexus between Victoria Police and its watchdog compromising racism investigations

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Sydney, Mar. 19 (ANI): A cosy relationship that exists between Victoria Police and its watchdog, Victoria's Office of Police Integrity (OPI), could be the reason why the OPI hasn't found any loophole in Victoria Police's racism case investigations, according to the author of a report on police racism.

The Australian quoted Tamar Hopkins, as saying that career swaps between top OPI members and Victoria Police compromises OPI's fairness.

Hopkins pointed out that the recent appointment of OPI's former deputy director Graham Ashton to a top role at Victoria Police created an unhealthy public perception, and raised questions about the watchdog's independence.

However, a Victoria Police spokeswoman rejected criticisms of the process that led to his appointment by Chief Commissioner Simon Overland.

"The key point is that Graham Ashton has the highest ethics and the highest integrity," she said.

The concerns were supported by Queensland barrister Mark Le Grand, the former director of the investigation of organised crime for the National Crime Authority.

"You are going to be less likely to embarrass a prospective employer, and less likely to make the hard calls," he said.

"To be an integral part of the watchdog establishment and to then leave it to join the police you were watching makes for a terrible perception," Le Grand said.

"The problem with bureaucratic organisations like the OPI is they have to work within a system dictated by the body they are meant to investigate, and you can see how cosy it is with people coming and going between the OPI and Victoria Police," he added.

"But the Victorian government cannot bring itself to set up a truly independent body that would break the current impasse." (ANI)

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