A recent media release from Greens NSW upper house MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge alerted me to a racial profiling policy adopted by the NSW police that is a new low for NSW, for it is a blatant example of racial profiling.
It needs wider exposure, hence this column.
Racial profiling is a major tool of the American police, and it has quite rightly been the cause of great distress, and the number of young black men shot dead by US police has led to the Black Lives Matter movement.
It is not difficult to grasp what racial profiling is, and why it is such a despicable policing tool.
Defined by the American Civil Liberties Union, racial profiling refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual's race, ethnicity, religion or national origin.
Without any other evidence, of course.
It is blatant racial discrimination and now it’s here in NSW!
Indeed, more than 50 per cent of those on this secretive NSW police blacklist are Indigenous.
The NSW police commissioner, Mick Fuller, said about 55 per cent of people who are currently the subject of a Suspect Target Management Plan are Indigenous, prompting accusations that police are using a “racially biased program” to combat crime.
The Suspect Target Management Plan (STMP) is a “predictive style of policing” that uses “disruption and prevention” to identify people who police believe are a high risk of committing crimes.
Researchers from the University of New South Wales and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre released a report which showed the STMP was overwhelmingly aimed at young people and Indigenous Australians, resulting in “oppressive policing”.
The report revealed cases where police appeared to use STMPs inappropriately, including as cause to search someone as a substitute for having reasonable grounds to suspect they had committed or intended to commit a crime.
Fuller said there were about 1800 people subject to an STMP across the state.
About 55 per cent of them were Indigenous.
He also revealed that the youngest person on an STMP was only nine years old.
Across NSW there were 622 people on the list with 322 identified as Indigenous.
Yet only 2.5 per cent of people in the state are Aboriginal.
Wagga Wagga has the highest number of children who have been targeted by police and placed on their secret “Suspect Target Management Program (STMP).
Wagga Wagga has the highest number of children who have been targeted by police and placed on their secret Suspect Target Management Program.Ray Goodlass
“Worse still, according to data revealed in the latest round of NSW budget estimates, 52 per cent of the people on the secret list are Aboriginal,” Mr Shoebridge said.
Additional data obtained by Mr Shoebridge shows that over a two-year period there were 12 children from Wagga Wagga placed on the secret watch list.
The STMP has also faced criticism from the legal profession and justice advocates, who say it unfairly targets minorities.
It is also secretive.
NSW police have refused to reveal what factors they use to determine who is placed on an STMP, and even those who are subject to one are not always informed.
Sophie Parker, a solicitor at the Redfern Legal Centre specialising in police powers, said it was evidence that Indigenous people were being disproportionately targeted by the STMP.
“It is extremely alarming that Aboriginal people – who make up just 2.5 per cent of the population – account for more than 50 per cent of STMP targets.”
“This is a clear example of oppressive over-policing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“Given a child under 10 cannot be arrested or charged with a crime, it is highly inappropriate that they be subject to an STMP,” she said.
STMP is racist policing, pure and simple, and it’s being used to harass children in the Wagga Wagga region.
This is not a list any community wants to top, and in each case it is almost certainly because Indigenous children are being placed on the police radar far earlier, and far more often, than non-Indigenous children.
What we see with these figures is an ongoing justice crisis that is striking deep at the Indigenous community across NSW.
The NSW police should end this program immediately and the state government should invest resources into helping vulnerable children, instead of persecuting them.