Three uniformed police officers walk the street in QLD.

It’s a time for transparency, not secrecy – policing guidelines must be urgently released

Amnesty International Australia has again called on Police services in New South Wales and Victoria to immediately and urgently release guidelines for policing infringements as tighter lockdown restrictions are applied to both states.

NSW Police internal guidelines – published today in media reports today following a freedom of information request – show that police were given a great deal of discretion when applying the fines, but the failure to release these guidelines to the public, effectively keeps the NSW public in the dark.

“Police are using the guidelines as a cloak, unfairly policing the most vulnerable. We’re very concerned that the lack of clarity around the regulations and how they’re applied by Police means that certain groups of people are being unfairly targeted in their application,” Amnesty International Australia campaigner Joel Clark, said.

Police are using the guidelines as a cloak, unfairly policing the most vulnerable. We’re very concerned that the lack of clarity around the regulations and how they’re applied by Police means that certain groups of people are being unfairly targeted in their application.

Amnesty International Australia campaigner Joel Clark.

“It’s a time for transparency, not secrecy. The support of the public for the extreme quarantine measures put in place have contained the spread of covid-19 so far, but public trust in authorities is crucial to the ongoing success of mitigating the re-emergence of the virus.

 “As the situation evolves quickly in NSW and Victoria, people have the right to know and understand what they can and can’t do under the regulations, and how the Police will enforce them. How can anyone reasonably be expected to abide by the rules if they don’t know what they are?”

“In the first wave of lockdowns, we heard worrying reports of Indigenous people being harassed in their own homes, and we saw the reversal of a huge proportion of fines which goes to show just how opaque the regulations are for the average person on the street and how ripe they are for overzealous policing.”

“We’re asking everyone in the community to record and report instances of police overreach at https://covidpolicing.org.au/

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