My adjournment this evening is for the Minister for Police.
I refer to the media event last week staged by Victoria Police revealing their new arsenal of weapons and I ask the Minister to release the guidelines on when and how these weapons will be deployed in Victoria.
The militarisation of Victoria’s police force is evident in the purchase of semi-automatic rifles that fire capsicum rounds and blunt force pellets, a rubber bullet launcher, stinger grenades and flash/noise distraction devices.
According to the Police Commissioner, the equipment will lower the risk of serious injuries to police, rioters and members of the public by reducing the need for hand-to-hand physical contact. However, in practice these so-called ‘non-fatal’ weapons have been shown to cause serious physical injury and, in some cases, death.
The Greens share the deep concerns of many in the community that by using these weapons Police are more likely to escalate conflict than resolve it.
My colleague Sue Pennicuik has spoken many times in this Chamber raising concerns about the militarization of the police, for example opposing the use of tasers, and also about the need for de-escalation training.
Putting time into building strong communities is the way to resolve conflict not rubber bullets and grenades.
Rather than protecting the public, we fear these weapons will be used against Victorian citizens standing up to injustices, teenagers at parties, and those who are already marginalised and vulnerable.
Police say the new gear simply provides them with more options for crowd management; however, history shows that the more weapons police have, the more likely they are to be used. When it was first introduced Victoria Police used capsicum spray three times a week; its use then soared. We do not want to see Victoria Police turning into a US-style paramilitary force, motivated by a fear of injury rather than by desire to protect the community.