Thursday, October 28, 2010

Holding the guardians of public order to account

Moira Rayner has written a moving article on the tragic death of 15 year old boy shot dead by Police at a Melbourne skate park in 2008.  Her piece raises a number of profound and troubling questions. 
  • As police and other guardians of public order gain increased powers to use greater force, and the wider community becomes more fearful, how will the guardians of public order balance the community need to feel safe with the protection of the vulnerable; especially when the person who is 'the problem' is both a victim and a perpetrator? 
    • How and by whom will the guardians of public order be held to account when they use excessive and unnecessary force that causes serious harm or death?
    • And what happens when those guardians of order are privatized entities- employees and representatives of corporations?
      As recent events in Western Australia show increasingly the guardians of order are privatized entities-  representatives of corporations. As the death of Mr Ward demonstrates one consequence of the privatisation of various public order functions by the state is that private sector/corporate providers do not face the same accountability requirements and sanctions for transgression. 

      In case after case in this country and overseas, corporations who provide public order functions on behalf of the state have inflicted serious harm, even death on vulnerable people in their care without any serious sanction or penalty.  The recent death of Angolan asylum seeker Jimmy Mugemba in the custody of G4S on a British plane is the latest example.

      A recent UK Report Outsourcing Abuse  on the use and misuse of force reports on 300 alleged assaults of vulnerable people by private security and detention providers contracted by the UK Government. The Report reveals a shocking record of widespread systematic abuse and state sanctioned violence directed at vulnerable people by corporate contractors. Not only does the report document lawless disregard by corporate contractors, there is an inadequate public system for investigating serious, often criminal offenses.

      No comments: