‘ Po­lice must toughen up’

Civil lib­er­tar­i­ans slam swear rul­ing

Townsville Bulletin - - News - by Roanne John­son roanne. john­son@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

CIVIL lib­er­tar­i­ans be­lieve the boys in blue should ‘‘ toughen up’’ when it comes to swear words and have slammed a Townsville Mag­is­trate who ruled it’s un­ac­cept­able to call po­lice of­fi­cers ‘‘ c** ts’’.

Queens­land Coun­cil of Civil Lib­er­ties pres­i­dent Michael Cope yes­ter­day said he did not stand by a de­ci­sion from Mag­is­trate Rod Mad­sen to out­law call­ing po­lice of­fi­cers the ‘‘ C’’ word.

Mr Mad­sen this week fined 20-year-old Vin­cent labourer Zachary Shane Robert­son $ 1200 for us­ing the slur to abuse two po­lice­men who at­tended a Pim­lico party af­ter a fight broke out.

‘‘ They have to put up with it and re­ally it’s just an ex­cuse to charge peo­ple with an of­fence,’’ Mr Cope said. ‘‘ Peo­ple do think the ‘ C word’ is worse than the ‘ F word’ but our view is that be­ing sworn at is part of the job for po­lice.’’

The coun­cil pres­i­dent said mem­bers of the Queens­land Po­lice Ser­vice could not be of­fended or in­sulted by words which were not threats.

‘‘ Po­lice in per­for­mance of their du­ties should be seen as in con­trol and pro­fes­sional – they should just deal with ob­scene lan­guage,’’ he said.

Mr Cope’s com­ments come af­ter he last year sup­ported a con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion by Townsville Mag­is­trate Peter Smid who threw out a case against an of­fender who re­peat­edly said ‘‘ f*** off’’ to a po­lice­woman on Flin­ders St.

Mag­is­trate Smid gar­nered nation-wide at­ten­tion af­ter he or­dered the po­lice ser­vice to pay 28-year-old hor­ti­cul­tur­ist Bar­don Kaitira’s legal bills af­ter he ad­mit­ted to us­ing the lan­guage twice.

T h e Q u e e n s l a n d P o l i c e Union and its mem­bers, how­ever, slammed the rul­ing last year over the ‘‘ f*** off’’ court case, and praised Mr Mad­sen for this week’s rul­ing in the Zachary Robert­son case.

‘‘ No per­son de­serves get­ting sworn at in the work­place and po­lice are no dif­fer­ent,’’ union pres­i­dent Ian Leavers said.

‘‘ This lat­est de­ci­sion by a mag­is­trate is a com­mon­sense one and it’s a pity that more mag­is­trates are not will­ing to up­hold stan­dards in pub­lic de­cency.’’

T h e c h a r g e w h i c h M r Kaitira and Mr Robert­son faced court over is a pub­lic nui­sance of­fence un­der the Sum­mary Of­fences Act 2005 which in­cludes ‘‘ be­hav­ing in a d i s o r d e r l y , o f f e n s i v e , threat­en­ing or vi­o­lent way, or if their be­hav­iour in­ter­feres, or is likely to in­ter­fere, with the peace­ful pas­sage through, or en­joy­ment of, a pub­lic place by a mem­ber of the pub­lic’’.

This can in­clude swearing of a threat­en­ing, ob­scene or in­de­cent na­ture but each de­ci­sion to charge a per­son for the of­fence is a sub­jec­tive one as po­lice of­fi­cers in­volved take into ac­count the cir­cum­stances and con­text.

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