Mrs Margaret Howkins1
1Civil Liberties Australia (CLA), Perth, Australia
Civil Liberties Australia (CLA) is developing a model, based on WA but for national use, which aims to ensure that police internal investigation is fair to all… including to police officers themselves.
So, when police officers claim against the police force – say for worker’s compensation, or a safety incident at work, or superannuation or disciplinary matters – they are guaranteed their issue is investigated and recommendations made by external advisers, not by other WA Police officers.
The same independent advisers would investigate and report when an ordinary citizen makes a complaint against the police.
CLA believes the current system doesn’t meet Australian fair go standards.
“We believe there’s a better way, and we’re planning to work with police officers, MPs and others to devise a system that ensures the rights of police, citizens and society,” project ‘champion’ CLA WA Director Margaret Howkins, said. She is leading a national in-house CLA team examining principles and requirements of a new system, and proposing operating methodologies to make them work.
The basic principles of the new system are:
* Police officers and the people of WA must be treated equally
* Mandatory equality would operate when officers claim for medical, OH&S and superannuation matters, for example, and to complaints made against police by senior officers, peers, or by members of the public that police have dealt with.
The new model approach developed by Civil Liberties Australia in cooperation with police and politicians nationwide would eventually find its way into legislation and regulations
Perth-born and raised, Margaret Howkins spent more than 30 years in Canada and England, working in communications before gaining university qualifications in Sociology and Psychology.
She ran training and managements programs for British police and the UK’s Trades Union Congress among others.
Returning to Perth, she was surprised to discover some attitudes, training and actions of authorities antiquated by comparison. She became a change agent for better monitoring of politicians, police and bureaucracies. Her aim: to improve how the West works and to encourage citizens to stand up for themselves to retain their freedoms and civil liberties. She also tutors.