Police racism exposed

April 24, 1991

Police racism exposed

By Leon Harrison

PERTH — Police in WA, Queensland and NSW have been severely criticised in a report on violence against young Aborigines.

Interviews with youths held in detention revealed 88% claimed to have been assaulted by police. The figure for WA was 94%.

The report, by Chris Cuneen of Sydney University Institute of Criminology, revealed that most assaults occurred during arrests and at police stations. As the victims believed police violence was expected and tolerated, less than 10% lodged complaints.

The report is part of a study on racist violence for the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission. It follows the most extensive study ever on police violence in Australia.

"The problem of police violence is not susceptible to a simple rotten apple explanation but demands confronting as an institutional problem", said Cuneen.

Research last July revealed that Aboriginal youths, less than 5% of the juvenile population, filled 73% of detention places in WA, 32% in Queensland and 23% in NSW.

The report also revealed torture and terror tactics used against young Aborigines. One youth said police placed a metal bin over his head and repeatedly hit it; another was made to stand in the middle of a room while detectives kicked a football at him.

Two teenagers said guns were placed on tables in front of them while they were interviewed, and a 15 year-old was girl was beaten unconscious.

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