How rights get lost in the rush to be tough on crime

young woman with face avertedThis post originally appeared as a Letter to the Editor of the Shepparton News. It was written in response to an article published on the 12th of September 2018 that detailed the ‘frightening’ experience of an 18-year-old Kilmore woman who was arrested in Kilmore and held in the cells at Shepparton Police Station over a weekend.

MP Suzanna Sheed is concerned about the welfare and access to justice issues brought about by the concerted efforts of both sides of the political debate to be seen as ‘‘tough on crime’’.

We strongly agree with her recent comments to the Shepparton News that mandatory sentencing, harsher sentences and bail laws, and new anti-association laws all work against those who are most vulnerable in our community receiving proper justice outcomes.

Our laws are based on a foundation derived from Magna Carta that says a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Small comfort for ‘‘Kate’’ (not her real name or image), vulnerable and just a few weeks older than 18 years of age, who was arrested in Kilmore for breaching an intervention order by allegedly responding to contacts made by the ‘‘protected party’’, her former partner.

Kate was at home asleep when officers arrived last Friday. She was not permitted to dress properly before being transported to Shepparton where she was placed in the police cells. She spent the weekend locked up with inadequate clothing in primitive conditions.

When the matter finally went before Magistrate John Murphy on Monday, he expressed deep concern at her treatment before releasing her on a short bond without conviction.

Police then allegedly left Kate at the Shepparton railway station to make her way home to Kilmore inadequately dressed and without money or phone.

We note that a matter is already in the Supreme Court in which it is being argued that police have a duty of care in circumstances of family violence matters.

We therefore wonder how Victoria Police could then sensibly and in good conscience contemplate leaving this vulnerable young woman in such a predicament?


Photo by diana spatariu on Unsplash


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