5 February 2020

Shocking but not surprising: “Senior police in Western Australia were warned 12 months ago of a ‘clearly disturbing’ trend of Aboriginal drivers being overrepresented in police-initiated traffic stops. The briefing note from the mothballed evidence-based policing unit, obtained under freedom of information laws by Guardian Australia, found that Aboriginal drivers received 3.2 times more fines from being pulled over by police than non-Aboriginal drivers. But when tickets were issued by traffic cameras, Aboriginal drivers received slightly fewer penalties on average than non-Aboriginal drivers. … Aboriginal drivers in WA receive 1.75 times more penalty units over their lifetime of driving than non-Aboriginal drivers. That is about $1,260 more in fines for Aboriginal drivers, ‘almost entirely driven by police-initiated, on-the-spot infringements’. It also found Aboriginal drivers were carrying 6.2 times more unpaid fines — amounting to a debt of $2,327.” The police did nothing about it, and the evidence-based policing unit was starved of resources. This has potentially disastrous consequences for the people affected — Ms Dhu died after being abused in WA police custody, after being arrested for unpaid fines.