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Street cops fume as top cop lets crims take over Queensland streets

By Peter Pyke - posted Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Street cops are fuming and I call on the good old boys of the powerful Queensland police union to get off their lazy bums and tell the Bligh government it is time for Atkinson to go and sit on a beach somewhere and let police do their jobs which – incidentally commissioner - includes catching criminals.

The story so far: Around midnight on Monday 28 March 2011, last week, a white Nissan 1999 model utility was stolen from Torrington, in west Toowoomba. Through the good work of alert uniformed police who were nearby, police quickly located the stolen vehicle driving around in Wilsonton not far from where it was stolen. This first police unit to sight the stolen car was a marked police mobile patrol which attempted to stop the Nissan utility using their lights and sirens, that's their job. When the stolen car accelerated away and attempted to evade police, the officers were forced to pull over and stop their marked police vehicle whilst the stolen vehicle was permitted to drive off.

Yup, that's right, in accordance with commissioner Atkinson's instructions, despite it being late at night and other traffic virtually non-existent, police were not allowed to pursue a stolen vehicle. What followed is enough to make any Queensland citizen wonder. In accordance with Atkinson's pissant pursuit policy, all police in Toowoomba were then advised directly by the Toowoomba Police Communications Controller that they were to 'observe' the stolen vehicle only but were not – repeat, not allowed - to pursue it to attempt to detain the criminals who had stolen it.


For the next 45 minutes, every cop in every police mobile unit in the Toowoomba police district was forced to sit on their hands and watch as the stolen vehicle drove past several police cars and off into the night. A detective's car was the second police vehicle to get behind the stolen car and activate it's lights and sirens to try to stop it but this police crew were also directed to pull over when the stolen ute kept driving. A fully-marked Dog Squad unit also got behind the stolen car but was also directed not to attempt to stop but to 'observe' the Nissan utility only.

That's two marked units plus detectives and including a dog and handler with a high capture rate already available to chase down runners, more than enough police units in the immediate area to have quickly detained the utility and its occupants at around midnight on a Monday night when the risks of a member of the public being harmed by a responsible pursuit would have been minimal. For the sake of a short sharp chase, the stolen Nissan utility and its offending occupants could have been stopped within minutes of it being stolen at a time when there was no traffic about and it would have been safest for police to attempt to do that. And isn't that what we train, equip and pay police to do? Yes, it is.

As if this isn't bad enough, days later the stolen Nissan ute was still being driven around Toowoomba's streets with impunity and was used to commit other crimes.

Last I heard, the Nissan ute had false plates CJR-61 screwed onto it and twice last Wednesday (30 March 2011) the stolen vehicle drove into the bottle-shop of the Southern Hotel in Kearneys Spring, Toowoomba where it's occupants happily loaded up with slabs of Jim Beam bourbon and drove off without paying. Twice, once in the afternoon and the second time at about 10.00 PM.

Seems to me that this proves that Queensland cops have lost control of the streets because of their inept, incompetent and politically-compromised commissioner Atkinson.

Now what happens? It's a stolen car, it has stolen false plates on it, it's occupants like to drive into bottle-shops and steal alcohol. What are police supposed to do next time they see it driving past? Wave?


I say the incompetent Bligh government is at fault for extending Atkinson's contract way past his use-by-date. I call on Queenslanders to make their own judgements about whether I am right and police have been forced by Atkinson to hand over control of Queensland streets to criminals. Queenslanders who support street cops doing their jobs should voice their anger at this incredible situation.

There is a twist to this matter, though, in our system, all sworn police officers hold the 'office of constable' under the rule of law, so I say no-one can tell a sworn police officer he or she may not arrest a person they suspect of committing a criminal offence. In fact, anyone who prevents a sworn police officer from doing so might be arrested for obstruction or as a party to the offence. I urge Queensland cops to look this up. Police should ignore Atkinson and do their jobs which is to catch criminals and put them behind bars.

I call also on 'weather girl' Premier Anna Bligh to explain why her government extended police commissioner Bob Atkinson's contract when he has demonstrably stripped the police of their ability to fight crime in Queensland and reduced operational police officers to mere 'observers' of crime.

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About the Author

Peter Pyke is a former ALP parliamentarian and police anti-corruption campaigner. He is CEO of the Republican Democrats.

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