Criminal charges are not the end of the issue - Greens strengthen calls for police accountability


The Greens have welcomed the announcement this evening that NSW Police officer Kristian White has been charged for the alleged tasering of 95 year old dementia patient Clare Nowland but have strengthened calls for the NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb to refer the investigation of the matter to the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC).  

“It is a step in the right direction that the officer has been charged for this terrible incident,” Greens MP and spokesperson for Justice Sue Higginson said this evening. “But the path to accountability needed to address where things have failed so egregiously goes much further. We need a thorough, independent investigation of this issue that isn’t handled by the NSW Police. We just can’t have police investigating police wrongdoing.  

“I referred the issue to the LECC over the weekend and the Chief Commissioner responded indicating that under the current law the LECC can not commence an investigation itself, but the Commissioner of Police can refer the matter with a recommendation that the LECC investigate it. Given all of the circumstances this is what the Commissioner of Police must now do.  

“The Commissioner has just not responded to the seriousness of the matter as the community would expect. She has attempted to assure us that the investigation is in the safe hands of the Homicide Squad, that it will be reviewed by Professional Standards and monitored by the LECC, but this isn’t an independent investigation, and won’t deliver the accountability required.  

“It has also been revealed that the LECC’s powers to oversee investigations are limited, meaning the only appropriate way for this to be dealt with is for the whole investigation to be handed over to the LECC. The Police Commissioner’s assurance that once again police investigating police will deliver the accountability and change we need just isn’t working. It is deeply concerning that when speaking to the media today the Police Commissioner called this critical incident an accident. This case is alarming. A 95 year old woman, with dementia was tasered by Police in a care facility rendering her on end of life treatment. It needs to be a turning point for policing in NSW and it needs to be investigated independently.”  

“This has got to be a turning point. It’s not about just this one officer or this one event, this has to be what sparks bold and desperately needed reforms in policing in NSW.” Ms Higginson said.  

For media comment contact: Sue Higginson on 0428 227 363