4/11/2008Australia: 1500 Police Officers Believe Main Job is Revenue Generation
Survey shows two-thirds of Victoria, Australia police believe speed cameras are installed only for profit.
A landmark survey of 3459 police officers in Victoria, Australia today exposed a disturbing shift in law enforcement priorities. A total of 42 percent of the police surveyed by the Herald Sun newspaper believed their primary mission has become revenue generation.
The shift is seen even more clearly in the attitude of police toward speed cameras. A mere six percent believed the government's assertion that the purpose of photo enforcement was to reduce traffic fatalities. More than 70 percent of respondents insisted profit, not safety, was the true motivation. The state earned A$147 million with 671,063 mobile speed camera fines in the last fiscal year.
A spokesman for the chief commissioner dismissed the revenue raising claims by pointing to a government report that showed significant reductions in the number of accidents and injuries where speed cameras are used. In the Herald Sun survey, front line officers criticized high-ranking police officials for manipulating certain types of statistics to achieve a public perception of success.
"Everyone knows that the current crime figures are incorrect and tweaked by command to ensure the force looks good," one officer wrote.
In 2006, the British Medical Journal compared hospital admission records to UK police statistics to conclude the police were underreporting the number of serious injuries from traffic accidents. Experts suggested that police officers were being coerced to do this to create the appearance that speed cameras were responsible for a reduction in serious injuries. The Herald Sun survey showed officers in Victoria were told to implement similar practices with respect to major crimes in Victoria.
"They tell us not to report certain crimes as what they actually are instead telling us to report them as lesser crime, so it shows the stats for serious crime are down," another officer wrote.