‘ Police must toughen up’
Civil libertarians slam swear ruling
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.