Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3623..
MR CORBELL: In March 2006 the committee notified the Assembly that it had resolved to self-refer an inquiry into police powers and crowd control following a capsicum spray incident at a Reclaim the Streets rally in October 2004. When the committee presented its report in June of last year it commented that it was concerned that the complaints process which resulted from the incident in 2004 took two and a half years to finalise. The committee also noted that apart from the incident which sparked the inquiry no evidence of inappropriate behaviour by police was put to the committee.
I recognise that the issue of crowd control and, in particular, police handling of demonstrations and protests impact on the community's ability to act freely in a democratic society. The rights associated with activities of this nature are guaranteed under the ACT Human Rights Act 2004. The importance of these rights and freedoms made it necessary for me to consider the committee's report with diligence and seriousness.
The government is pleased to present a response that thoroughly considers the issues surrounding crowd control and evidence-based solutions and responses to the committee's report. The research suggests that a key element in effective crowd control is communication. Effective communication between police and organisers of events decreases the likelihood of disorder and violence at such events. The government has taken this opportunity to develop a response that goes to the theory of crowd control, highlighting the various factors that affect the outcome of events.
Although there is currently a liaison process for organisers of events to access, the government will use this opportunity to promote the existence of the liaison process to encourage better communication between police and organisers of events. ACT Policing will further update its website to include the details of a liaison contact and provide a hyperlink to the National Capital Authority's website, which currently contains event planning documents such as The right to protest. The right to protest outlines the process involved in planning demonstrations and other events involving crowds, including contact details for relevant agencies like the police.
Policing policies contained in the national guidelines for incident management, conflict resolution and use of force will also be provided in a version accessible to the community, including an explanation of the use of force continuum. These policies outline police protocol on the use of force. By raising the awareness of the community of the existence of these documents, the government hopes to encourage better communication and understanding between police and the broader community.
In relation to the complaints made against police that motivated the committee to conduct the inquiry three years ago, the committee noted its concern that the issue took more than two years to resolve. Let me share that same concern. I empathise with complainants and appreciate the seriousness of the issue.
The government has pursued this matter with ACT Policing and the Ombudsman. Although the government response was finalised before my department received the