25 April 2020

Statistics from NSW show bias in the way police are issuing social distancing fines (other states refuse to release data): “Julie Leask, a professor at the University of Sydney specialising in public health and risk communication, says… ‘You see this great big spotlight shone on all the cracks in the system. Clearly Aboriginal people are more likely to be policed in a way that is more severe,’ she said. ‘I also noted, for example, that Western Sydney had a lot more fines issued than Woollahra, where there were a lot more cases. You know, a pandemic is no excuse to reinforce existing inequities.’ … Tamar Hopkins, who worked as the founding lawyer at the Police Accountability Project in Melbourne and researches police profiling at the University of New South Wales, said the breakdown of infringements issued in NSW ‘really fits the pattern’ of racialised policing. … ‘Wherever data is collected in Australia, we see clear patterns of racial targeting going on. … The laws as they are currently drafted are very, very broad. It’s very hard to be clear about what exactly is an illegal and a legal thing that someone could be doing,’ Hopkins said. ‘It leaves a huge amount of discretion. And the more arbitrary a piece of law is, the more likely it is going to be applied through the biased lenses that police apply to their job in an ordinary context. The facts are that whenever police powers are examined and data is collected over how police are using them, there is always a racial bias in the way that they’re used.’”