New race policy 'helps not hinders' fight against crime: W. Australia police chief

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Melbourne, Nov.29 (ANI): Police in Western Australia, have been banned from using details such as a suspect's nationality, race or religion when seeking public help, following an order to this effect by state Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan.

Instead, they have been told to say if the person is light or dark skinned, news.com.au reports.

Western Australia Police are standing by their policy, saying many people don't actually know what people of different nationalities look like.

"More general descriptors limit the chances for people to make error," WA Police Media spokesman Samuel Dinnison says.

Dinnison added: "People have different terms of reference and if we narrow investigations down to specific race, the person may have gotten it wrong and that may limit an investigation. Narrowing it down too much can be detrimental to an investigation."

The Equal Opportunities Commission says the ban was introduced six months ago after complaints that using ethnic descriptions was racist.

The commission agreed that witnesses who made reports to police would often get the ethnicity of a suspect wrong.

Equal Opportunity Commission state commissioner Yvonne Henderson said using ethnic descriptions reinforced negative stereotypes.

Other states, such as Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory use the nationally agreed ANZPAA policy which limits the description categories to broad groups including Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander, Asian, Middle-Eastern or Caucasian appearance unless there has been a positive identification of the nationality of a person described. (ANI)

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