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Aboriginal-Police Relations in Redfern: with Special Reference to the ‘Police Raid’ of 8 February 1990, a report commissioned by the National Inquiry into Racist Violence

Aboriginal-Police Relations in Redfern: with special reference to the
‘Police Raid’ of 8 February 1990, a report commissioned by the National
Inquiry into Racist Violence

Report Commissioned by the National Inquiry into Racist Violence


by Chris Cunneen

Aboriginal Law Centre

Law Faculty

University of NSW

Published by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Sydney, May

ISBN 0 642 15439 2


ALS: Aboriginal Legal Service

CIB: Criminal Investigation Branch

NAILSS: National Aboriginal and Islander Legal Services Section

SWOG: Special Weapons and Operations Squad

TRG: Tactical Response Group

Report Outline

1. Historical Background

2. Policing Refern in the 1980s

3. Policing Operations in 1989/90

4. The "Redfern Raid" 8 February 1990

5. Conclusion and Recommendations


1. Historical Background

Complaints concerning police activities against
Aboriginal people in Redfern are not new. It is important to recognise that the
of complaints concerning discriminatory police methods in Redfern led to
the establishment of the first Aboriginal Legal Service
(ALS) in 1970.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s Aboriginal people claimed that in Redfern
they were regularly arrested without cause and that they
were the subject of a
police-imposed curfew (Lyons, 1984, p138). Complaints also centred around police
activities outside the Empress
and Clifton Hotels. As the Ruddock Report (1980,
p24) noted, the establishment of the ALS was the result of complaints concerning
'police actives allegedly directed against Aborigines in and around

It is often difficult for non-Aboriginal Australians to understand the depth
of police intervention into Aboriginal life. In discussing
the establishment of
the ALS in Redfern end the use of a curfew in Redfern in 1970, Justice Wootten

I found, as most people do, it [the curfew] a little hard to believe when
I first heard it, but when I observed It operating with
my own eyes, I was left
with little doubt. The simple position was that any Aboriginal who was on the
streets of Redfern at a quarter
past ten was simply put into the paddy wagon and
taken to the station and charged with drunkenness, and that was something that
just literally applied to every Aboriginal walking along the street,
irrespective any sign of drunkenness in his [sic] behaviour.
This and the
associated problems gave rise to very strong feelings amongst Aborigines here.
(Wootten, 1974, p.60)

Complaints concerning the treatment of Aboriginal people by police in the
Redfern area continued during the 1970s. In early 1971 complaints
were made
concerning the arrest and bashing of an Aboriginal youth picked-up in Victoria
Park (Sydney Morning Herald, 21 May 1971, p3). The youth was charged with
using Indecent language.

Complaints from Aboriginal people in Redfern were not solely directed at
police stationed in Redfern. Indeed an ongoing concern has
been the activities
of police from outside the region. In particular during the early 1970s there
were objections to the 21 Division
(also known as the 'mobile' or 'riot' squad)
and police stationed at Regent Street. In 1973 there were specific complaints
to the alleged violence by 21 Division police against Aboriginal adults
and youth (Identity, August 1973, pp ,36-37). Other complaints
concerned policing
strategies around the Empress Hotel, and accusations that police were 'baiting'
Aboriginal people in Redfern and
then arresting them (Sydney Morning
, 7 September 1974, p.13).

Evidence of discriminatory policing in Redfern during the early 1970s also
received support with the publication of court statistics
for the Central Court
of Petty Sessions (which covers the Redfern area). The NSW Bureau of Crime
Statistics and Research (1973, pp.41-45)
indicated that Aboriginal people were
over-represented by a factor of 10.7 compared with their population in the
inner-city. Furthermore
63% of offences for which Aboriginal people were
convicted were for unseemly words and vagrancy. This figure was double the
of such convictions for the total inner-city population.

In March, May and September 1973 there were meetings between police, the ALS
and other Aboriginal organisations as a result of the
conflict in Redfern.
Police at the meeting included an Assistant Commissioner and senior police from
the 21 Division and Redfern.
One outcome of the meeting was the establishment of
an Aboriginal-police liaison committee. It was claimed that, as a result of the
meetings, arrests of Aboriginal people dropped by 75% (Sydney Morning
, 7 September 1974, p.13). However one explanation for the drop in
arrests was an 'alteration in police practices rather than any
change in the
behaviour of Aborigines in Redfern' (Anti-Discrimination Board, 1962, p.138). In
evidence later submitted to the Ruddock
Committee, the ALS claimed that when the
liaison committee was first established. It operated 'reasonably well' because

most negotiations
were carried out on behalf of the Service by the
non-Aboriginal professionals associated with it. As soon as Aboriginals assumed
full control of the Service, Aboriginal-police relations deteriorated. (Ruddock
Report, 1980, p.138)

It appears that by mid-1975 the liaison committee had ceased to operate.
Certainly complaints from the ALS about police tactics in
Redfern soon
re-emerged. During April 1975 a number of incidents occurred outside the Empress
and other hotels where the ALS claimed
Mat Aboriginal people were being
victimised by police. There were also claims by Paul Coo, then the vice
president of the Legal Service,
that the staff of the Legal Service were being
harassed by police and arrested on 'trumped-up' charges (Sydney Morning
, 8 May 1975, p.10). A solicitor for the Legal Service at the time,
Peter Tobin, stated that mare than half of the Service's staff
had been arrested
in the previous few months.

2. Policing Redfern in the 1980s

During the 1980s there were numerous complaints
concerning police activity in Redfern. The information presented in Table 1 is
no means
exhaustive[1]. The table
represents the large-scale police incursions which have been the subject of
complaints by the ALB (either to the media
and/or the Ombudsman's Office) and
have been the subject of widespread media attention.


Major strike Incursions into Redfern


Official Complaints
May 1981
20 Vehicles
December 1981
Rescue Squad
January 1982
Special Crime Squad
November 1983
80 Police
December 1987
August 1988
July 1989
6 (Sth Reg Crime Squad)
October 1989
10 (Redfern and others)
January 1990
Operation Beatham
February 1990
135 (TRG, others)

N/A = Not Available; U/k = Unknown

During May and December 1981 there were media reports of 'clashes' between
Aboriginal people and police in Reclaim. According to the Sun (14 May
1981) approximately 150 people barricaded Eveleigh Street Redfern. Twenty police
vehicles with an unknown number of police
confronted the crowd. Missiles were
thrown at the police and five arrests were made. In December 1981 a similar
confrontation occurred
between an estimated crowd Of 200 Aboriginal people and
an unknown number of police, including the police rescue squad. According
to the
report (Daily Mirror, 2 December 1981) there had been a number of potentially
explosive situations' between police and Aborigines
in the area over the
previous twelve months.

As a result of an ALS and Council for Civil Liberties investigation, more
extensive documentation of alleged police harassment in
Redfern occurred after
particular policing operations during January 1982. A Special Crime Squad went
to the Clifton Hotel on the
night of January 27, 1982. A number of Aboriginal
women were detained under the Intoxicated Persons Act and taken to the cells a
Central Police Station. At dosing time of the hotel there were two police wagons
and 2 police cars parked outside. A solicitor from
the Aboriginal Legal Service,
who was present a the time, described the police actions as obstinate and
provocative' (Civil Liberty, No 99, p.11). According to the solicitor, a'
heavy-handed approach' by police was adopted which resulted in a number of
for obstructing the footpath and other similar summary charges. On the
following nights there was also a strong police presence although
fewer an
arrests, possibly because of the presence of ALS solicitors and observers from
the Council for Civil Liberties. According
to Tickner (1982) the averts around
the Clifton Hotel were an example of hall 'sector policing'. The Clifton Hotel,
at the time,
was the major hotel for the social gathering of Aboriginal people
in the area. Tickner noted that

no other hotel in Redfern is subject to such an intensive policing nor is
there any evidence to suggest that the streets of Redfern,
other than those in
the immediate precincts of the Clifton Hotel, are being intensively

The police patrols of the area continued through 1982 including the
attendance of a police mini-bus and regular foot patrols. According
to a
spokesperson from the ALS, police activities in the area indicated that-it is
self-evident that the police are waiting for any
excuse to start a riot
situation in Redfern' (Civil Liberty, No.99, p. 12). Although there is no
conclusive evidence, the use of the mini-bus and the nature of the foot patrols
in groups of
8 to 10 police) suggest that the Tactical Response Group (TRG) may
have been involved. The TRG became operational in May 1982.

In early November 1983 there was a major policing operation centred first
around the Clifton Hotel and later in Eveleigh Street It
was estimated that the
operation involved some 80 police officers, 30 police cars and 15 police vans.
Thirty four Aboriginal people
were detained under the Intoxicated Persons Act,
none were arrested on substantive charges (Civil Liberty, No. 110,
pp.17-19). Of the more serious injuries sustained by Aboriginal people, one
woman in the Clifton Hotel had her front teeth
knocked out after being hit,
allegedly by a police officer, while a 16 year old girt wile was 4 months
pregnant, miscarried after
being hit in the groin, allegedly by an officer. The
original incident at the Clifton Hotel was sparked when a small object was
at a police van which was patrolling in front of the hotel at closing
time. A large scale disturbance was reported by the police
to the Criminal
Investigation Branch (CIB) headquarters and, as a result an 'all points'
bulletin was issued which drew police from
as far as Sutherland, Campsie,
Maroubra, Waverley and Balmain (Civil Liberty, No. 110, p.18). Complaints
were made to the NSW office d the Ombudsman through the ALS. Complaints included
the following:

1. the misuse and inappropriate application of the Intoxicated Persons

2. assaults by police;

3. the removal of identification numbers by police;

4. provocation by police at the commencement of the disturbances;

5. the failure of the police to contact the Aboriginal/Police Liaison Unit
until long after the disturbances were over;

6. the ill-treatment of doctors who attempted to examine those arrested;

7. the detention of persons under the Intoxicated Persons Act who had
not consumed alcohol;

8 police breaking into people's homes in Eveleigh Street and detaining them
under the Intoxicated Persons Act.

The then NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Frank Walker, also ordered an
investigation into the incident. Certainly research conducted
by the NSW Bureau
of Cruse Statistics and Research (1984) indicated a disproportionate use of the Intoxicated Persons Act in relation to Aboriginal people
generally[2]. In
addition research by the Anti-Discrimination Board (1982) highlighted the
disproportionate use of public order legislation against
Aboriginal people.

On 10th December 1987 there was a confrontation between about 40 Aboriginal
people and 20 police at the top of Eveleigh Street near
the railway station.
According to the ALS, the Tactical Response Coup were called to the incident the
leader of the National Party,
Wal Murray, was reported as saying that police
should be able to use dogs to 'break-up uncontrollable mobs' (Sydney Morning
, 11/12/87, p.2).

In August 1988 there was a confrontation between 50 police in riot gear, led
by the TRG, and approximately 50 young Aboriginal people.
The police made
repeated baton charges into the crowd in Eveleigh Street. As a result of the
riot, the NSW Attorney General, John
Dowd, announced changes to the Crimes Act,
with the introduction of a new statutory offence of not The NSW Police
Association called
for the permanent establishment of the TRG in Redfern
(Sydney Morning Herald, 5/9/88, p.5). In evidence to the Human Rights and
Equal Opportunity Commission's community hearing in Redfern on 24th August 1989,
the events surrounding the riot were raised by a number of witnesses. Shane
Phillips made the Important point that, although the
police ware originally
seeking to arrest one alleged offender, the whole community became the subject
of the policing operation.
The day alter the riot the TRG was again in Eveleigh
Street, Redfern. On this occasion Phillips was referred to as a 'little black
cunt' by a TRG officer (Human Rights ad Equal Opportunity Commission, 1989,

The summary of information provided above shows Mat there has been a
continuity in complaints concerning police activities in Redfern
for the 20
years between 1970 and 1990. Many of those complaints related to discriminatory
policing practices and the excessive use
of force. It is also noteworthy that in
the later 19805 Mere has been an increasing use of TRG personnel in the Redfern

3. Policing Operations in 1989/90

3.1 David Gundy

Although David Gunny was
Killed in Marrickville, there are several reasons for considering his death
within this report. Firstly the
policing operation came under the command of
South Region police who were responsible far a number of incidents in Redfern.
the nature of the raid and the manner of David Gundy's death have
parallels with other operations Involving Aboriginal people. Thirdly
the death
of David Gundy has had a profound impact on Aboriginal/ police relations

David Gundy was killed when police raided his home before dawn on 27 April
1989. Eight members of the Special Weapons and Operations
Squad, (SWOS) armed
with shotguns, a sledgehammer and a search warrant, were seeking a suspect in
relation to the murder of a police
officer. The suspect was not in the house at
the time. David Gundy was killed in his bedroom by a shotgun blast fired by one
of the
SWOS officers. The coronial inquiry accepted the evidence of officers
that the gun had accidentally discharged during a struggle.

Shortly after the death, the NSW Ombudsman released a report arising from an
earlier incident involving a SWOS officer. The same officer
was in charge of the
SWOS team which raided Gundy's house. The Ombudsman's report, Inadequate
Training end Procedures of the Special Weapons Squad
(1 May 1989),
recommended that the procedures and instructions for SWOS in relation to arrest,
detention and interrogation be reviewed
immediately by the Commissioner of
Police (NSW Office of the Ombudsman, 19&9). One year later, on 1st May 1990
the Ombudsman
reported to Parliament Met he history of the review of SWOS
procedures and operations recommended by the Ombudsman is one of inaction
gross delay' (NSW Office of the Ombudsman, 1990, p8).

The Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was prepared to
investigate the death of David Gundy. However a successful
challenge was made to
the Federal Court by the NSW Police Association. Counsel for the Association
argued that the death was outside
the Commission's terns of reference because it
did not occur in custody. An appeal has been lodged by the ALS against the
decision. It is unclear at present whether the Royal Commission will be
able to hear the case.

3.2 Alexandria Park

On 14 July 1989 between 500 and 1,000 Aboriginal
people were celebrating National Aboriginal Day with a children's sports
b Alexandria Park, Redfern. Plainclothes police officers from the South
Region Crime Squad attempted to arrest an Aboriginal man
wanted on two warrants
and for questioning in relation to another offence. A summary of the incident
was compiled by the ALS and
basically described what happened as follows.

Over 07 per cent of those in attendance at the carnival were children. During
the carnival five or six persons, who later identified
themselves as police
officers, entered the park area with guns drawn. None of the police officers was
in uniform and none of the
officers immediately identified himself as police.
Two of the persons discharged their pistols, firing four or five bullets. There
were a number of other people, inducing children, in the immediate vicinity. One
person in the park wrestled a police officer to
the ground in order to stop him
further discharging the pistol in the vicinity of the spectators. When the
person being sought by
police drove away in a truck parked at the carnival, the
police fired further shots although there were children on the back of the

Apparently the location of the person wanted by police had been known to
police officers for some months and negotiations had been
underway win an
Aboriginal Police Liaison Officer for the person to surrender himself to local
police. The Liaison Officer warned
police that the lives of women and children
would be endangered if they tied to arrest the individual with guns. The Liaison
Alan Johnson. said the information was ignored. He described the
Liaison Unit as 'just a token body' (Sydney Morning Herald, 18/7/89, p3.
and Land Right News, July 1989. p.15).

The week following the incident some 157 people marched from Alexandria Park
to Police Headquarters calling for an inquiry into the
incident. According to
another Aboriginal Police Liaison Officer, Mary-Lou Buck, the community wanted
an independent investigation
(Sydney Morning Herald, 21P/89, p.9).

The matter has been referred to the NSW Office of the Ombudsman. There has
been no conclusion to the investigation as yet.

3.3 Other Operations/ Incidents

On 22 May 1989 a vehicle was stolen from Chippendale
and driven to Caroline Street, Redfern. Police who were following the car were
apparently confronted by approximately 20 young Aboriginal people. The police
withdrew and the vehicle was vandalised. The incident
caused widespread media
comment with Redfern described as a 'no-go' area.

In October 1989 police were accused of brutality in the arrest of a 16 year
old Aboriginal juvenile who was on crutches at the time.
Approximately 10
officers in eight police vehicles were used to arrest the juvenile. Other youths
who were present allegedly threw
bottles at the police. Shane Phillips, an
Officer at the time with the Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody,
to diffuse the situation. He was allegedly elbowed by police and called a
'black c...' (Sydney Morning Herald "20/10/89, p.3). The mother of the
juvenile described the police action as' excessive and brutal force'.

Two police operations were conducted in January 1990 called Operation Beatham
and Operation Windows. Both operations resulted in high-profile
police presence
in Redfern. Shane Phillips from Eveleigh Street described the police as selling
provocatively and harassing innocent
people. Operation Windows involved the use
of toot patrols In the Redfern area.

Another incident occurred during 1899 which, while not a confrontation
between police and Aboriginal people, did impact upon Aboriginal/police
relations in the area. On 23 May 1909, Channel 9 screened a Sixty Minutes
programme entitled The County. The programme featured Chief Inspector
Peek and Senior Constable Hersch from Redfern police. The programme was the
subject of a
complaint from the Redfern Youth Action Group to the Australian
Broadcasting Tribunal. According to the Youth Action Group the programme
Inaccurate, racist and extremely offensive'. The Programme featured Constable
Hersch explaining that police officers referred
to the area around Eveleigh
Street as 'the county'. This phrase, he further explained, meant' Coon county'.
The programme also contained
a segment with the media crew filming from inside a
police vehicle as it drove down Eveleigh Street during the evening and
Aboriginal people on the street.

The racist term the county' as a reference to the Aboriginal community in
Redfern has apparently widespread usage amongst police.
Indeed the President of
the NSW Police Association. Tony Day, has publicly referred to the area as the
'county' (NSW Police Nooks,
September 1981 p.3).

During 1989 the two incidents in particular which caused a further
deterioration of Aboriginal/police relations in the area were the
operation in Alexandria Park and the shooting of David Gundy. Both operations
involved the South Region Crime Squad and the
killing of David Gundy also
involved SWOS. Both operations involved the execution of warrants and both were
the subject of complaints
in relation to the excessive use of force. In addition
the incident at Alexandria Park drew complaints that police had ignored the
advice of the Aboriginal Police Liaison Officers

3.4 The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's National Inquiry into
Racist Violence Hearing in Redfern, 24 August 1989

On 24 August 1989 the Human Rights and Equal
Opportunity Commission's National Inquiry into Racist violence conducted a
public hearing
in Redfern to gather evidence for its inquiry into racist
violence. Much of the evidence which was presented related to folding operations
in Redfern during 1989 and previous years. The evidence covered some of the
events already referred to in this report including earlier
riots, the death of
David Gundy, the Alexandria Park incident and the Sixty Minutes programme. In
addition evidence was presented
relating to police brutality and meant.
According to Tiga Bayles, police brutality takes place almost every day in
Redfern', the
violation of rights and the brutality that takes place is a
regular occurrence' (Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 1989,
10-11). Evidence also related to the fear by Aboriginal people of police and the
provocative role police play in the area with
patois around the black every ten
minutes' (Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 1989, pp.28).
Aboriginal youth, who were
members of the Redfern Youth Action Coup, recounted
incidents where they had been allegedly sworn at, kicked and bashed by police

Superintendent Iresdale, the Acting Commander of the Sydney District, also
gave evidence at the hearing in relation to community adding
initiatives in the
area. There was however substantial criticism by Aboriginal people at the
hearing of particular practices, inducting
harassment and the use of the TRG,
which it was said broke down attempts to establish better community

4. The ‘Redfern Raid’ 8 February 1990

4.1 The ‘Raid’

The policing operation
referred to as the ' Redfern Raid' occurred in the early hours of the morning on
8 February 1990. The operation
was code-named Operation Sue and included 135
police tram the Tactical Response Group, the Anti-Theft Squad, the Rescue Squad
other officers including Redfern police. The operation came under the
command of Executive Chief Superintendent Alf Peate, the Sydney

Police gathered at the Sydney Police Centre at tam for the pre-raid
briefing[3], then moved
to positions around the 'block' (Eveleigh, Caroline, Vine and Hugo Streets,
Redfern) shortly before 4am. Some 70 police,
led by the TRG, conducted the raids
on at least eight
houses[4], while the
remainder of the police provided back-up support and sealed off the area.

The police were issued with at least eight search warns two days previously.
As a result of the raid at least eight
arrests[5] were made.
One of those arrested was a juvenile. During the raid, iron bars end
sledgehammers were used to gain entry into houses.
According to statements which
were made by residents some police were armed with shotguns, although
Superintendent Peate publicly
denied that shotguns were used during the raid
(Sydney Morning Herald, 9/21517. p2). There is however no denial that
police were carrying firearms and batons.

4.2 The Arrests

Of the 8 persons arrested:

  • 3 persons were
    charged with goods in custody;
  • 1 person (a
    juvenile) was charged with possession of an implement for the use of drugs;
  • 2 persons were
    detained for unpaid warrants;
  • 2 persons were
    detained for warrants relating to breach of bail and fail to appear; and another
    warrant for being under the influence
    of intoxicating liquor on the

One case of goods in
custody[6] related to
the alleged possession of several handbags and wallets, including a bankcard and
health card in other names, and several
minor items including an electric
shaver, 2 knives, 2 watches, a bracelet, a pair of goggles, 3 video tapes,

Another case of goods in custody involved the alleged possession of a TV and
video recorder.

The third case of goods in custody related to the alleged possession of a TV,
a radio cassette player, a camera, a graphic equaliser
and other minor

Information was available for four of the warrants used to detain
individuals. Three warrants related to offences which had been allegedly
committed many years previously. One warrant related to a breach of bail
conditions by failing to appear at Redfern Court on 30 December
1932. This
warrant was thus 7 years and 2 months old at the time of execution. Another
warrant related to a failure to appear at
Newcastle Court on 29 May 1984. This
warrant was 5 years and 9 months old at the time of execution. The third warrant
related to
a charge of being drunk on the railways at Broadmeadow on 20 April
1989. This warrant was 5 years and 10 months old at the time of

The fourth warrant related to a breach of a community service order.

4.3 Search Warrants

The police raid revolved around the execution of
eight search warrants in relation to premises in Caroline Street, Louis Street
Eveleigh Street. Information was available to this researcher in relation to
seven search warrants.

All warrants were issued at Waverley Local Court by Alexander Mijovich at
3.15 pm on 6 February 1990. In all cases the applicant was
a sergeant from the
Sydney District Anti-Theft Squad.

Under the Search Warrants Act 1985, the occupier on whom the warrant is
served may inspect the original application for the warrant, and the written
reasons for the
issue of the warrant, at the Local Court of issue. Officers from
the National Aboriginal and Islander Legal Services Secretariat
inspected the documentation on behalf of the occupiers. The information which
was used by the applicant as grounds for the
issue of the search warrants was
supplied by a senior sergeant from Redfern Police Station. In addition, in all
cases the applicant
stated that he had been requested to obtain the warrants at
the direction of Executive Chief Superintendent Peate.

The seven search warrants are dealt with in more detail below in Table 2.


Search Warrants, Arrests, Goods Recovered

Search Warrant
Suspect Named
Suspect Arrested
Others Arrested
Specified Items Found
Warrant 1
Warrant 2
Warrant 3
Warrant 4
Warrant 5
Warrant 6
Warrant 7

There was a limited amount of information written down as grounds for the
application for the search warrants. Grounds for the applications
all contained
the additional rider 'together with information supplied orally'. According to
officers from NAILSS, Mijovich who issued
the warrants stated to NAILSS,
‘there was a lot of information given to me orally that was just too
sensitive to be written
out, including informants’ names and other

However, in five of the seven warrants suspects were named and related to
various alleged offences including car theft, break and
enters and assault. In
none of those instances were the individuals arrested. In most cases the
specified items were not seized,
although items suspected of being stolen were.
For instance in warrant 7 shown in Table 2, the grounds for the issue of the
were that the premises had been observed by police surveillance as being
used for the supply of drugs, and that a number of firearms
had been reportedly
secreted in the ceiling of the premises. As a result a the execution of the
warrant on these premises, one person
was arrested on two warrants more than
five years old relating to fail to appear in court and intoxicated on railway.
Goods allegedly
seized from the premises were two implements for smoking
cannabis and two milk crates, the property of Dairy Farmers.

In warrant 5 shown in Table 2 the grounds for the application for the search
warrant named two individuals who were suspected of involvement
in break and
enters and armed hold-ups. It was also reported that there were firearms on the
premises, possibly the proceeds from
armed hold-ups and other stolen property.
Neither of the two individuals were arrested nor were any firearms discovered
during the
execution of the warrant. Two different individuals were arrested on
the premises. One was charged with goods in custody (a TV and
video recorder),
the other wind an outstanding warrant for breach of a community service

The issuing and execution of the warrants raw a number of questions relating
to police practices: firstly, the adequacy and reliability
of information from
police surveillance and informants; secondly, the adequacy of the requirements
necessary for the issuing of search
warrants, in particular the adequacy of the
information required to constitute sufficient grounds for the issuing of search
and thirdly, the methods used in the execution of the warrants.

4.4 Complaints by Residents

The following information is based on nine signed
statements by individuals inside seven of the eight houses which were raided by
police. Additional Information is drawn from six other statements or transcripts
of tapes made by persons who witnessed the police

House 1

The occupant of house I stated that he witnessed,
from the upstairs balcony of his house, police arriving at around 4am in a
He recognised the police as TRG officers because of the not gear they
were wearing including shields, batons, helmets and vests.
He stated,

They were also carrying firearms that looked like riot guns, that is
shotguns. Those were about two and hall feet long, they were
holding them at the
side of their legs pointing to the ground at that stage.

Approximately five police approached the door of his residence and shouted,
'Open the fucking door', several times. He went downstairs
and opened the door.
He and his wife were told to lie on the floor. He was handcuffed. The police
officers began searching the house.
His 11 year old son was upstairs in bed at
the time. His son stated that when the police entered his room he was grabbed by
the back
of the neck and told to get up. The police officers had guns pointed at
him. According to the statement he came downstairs crying
and very frightened.
The occupant was charged with goods in custody. The police allegedly took a
couple of old credit cards, broken
children's walkmans, some junk jewellery, a
couple of handbags and wallets, and videos tapes which according to the occupant
been borrowed from friends.

The occupant's copy of the search warrant which was left at the house was
originally addressed to the residence next door. The number
had, however, been
changed in biro to the number of the house which was entered.

House 2

The occupant stated that she was at home with her
sister on the night of the raid. She was in the toilet when she heard a lot of
in the house. She stated, 'I came out of the toilet and saw coppers
standing there with a gun to my sister's head. They tried to
shove me a bit
too.' She stated that the police took her prescription medicine. The occupant
had only recently been discharged from
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and was ill
at the time at the raid.

House 3

Two of the four persons in the house at the time
made statements concerning the police raid. The two occupants (husband and wife)
were in the upstairs bedroom asleep at the time. Both stated that

three or four police burst into the bedroom. Some police were carrying
batons. The male occupant was pulled out of bed and told to
lie on the floor
with his hands behind his back. The room was searched for 15 to 20 minutes, then
the two persons were taken downstairs
to join the other two occupants. Police
were in the louse for approximately one and a half hours. The result of the raid
was that
one parson was arrested on a warrant dating back 7 years.

House 4

At the time d the raid the house was occupied by a
man and woman and their four children aged between 6 months and 10 years old.
were made by both the adults present during the raid. The occupants
were awoken by banging on the front door. The door was smashed
In and
approximately 8 police entered the house. The adult occupants were in an
upstairs bedroom with their 6 month old baby. Approximately
four police entered
the bedroom.

When the husband moved to pick up the baby, who was crying, he was pushed
onto the bed by an officer. The officer said 'don't move'
whilst pointing a gun
at the head and upper chest area of the husband. The woman in her statement

I started to move on the bed. The people said 'don't move, police'. I was
shaking and I almost fell off the bed. When I moved to sit
properly on the bed,
the policemen holding the gun pointed the gun at me and said 'Don't move'. I
didn’t say anything. I was
very frightened.

The police began to search the house. The woman stated that it was then she
realised that there were police in her children's room.
The police allegedly
collected a number of items from the roans including a telephone, TV and several
bags. According to the occupant,
the police asked her if she had receipts for
certain hems. She replied, 'No. I don't even keep my rent receipts'.

The occupant's statement goes on to relate,

All this time I was in my nightie. I wanted to breast feed my baby. The
police told me they wanted me to go to the police station
to answer questions. A
police officer asked me if wanted to change out of my nightie before going to do
police station. When I said
yes, however, they would not let me change in
private. I had to get my husband to stand between me and the police officer who
that I keep the bedroom door half open while I changed my clothes. I
had to take the baby with me to the police station. There were
four male police
officers in the car that took me to the police station. They would not get a
female officer to go with me to the

The woman's statement concludes that 'the experience was terrifying to me and
my family and degrading'.

House 5

House 5 was occupied by a 67 year old woman who was
alone in the house at the time. The woman awoke to find six or seven mall police
standing in her bedroom. She stated that she did not immediately recognise the
men as police because she was sound asleep at the
time of their entry. She

The first thing that I knew was that my bedroom door was open and six or
so men were standing in my room. I got that much a shock
that I fell off the bed
because I didn't recognise them police on account of the fact that I had been
fast asleep. The police were
carrying batons and guns and they had helmet things
on their heads and bullet proof vests on too.

Police told the woman that they were searching for two boys. She was
presented with a search warrant but did not read it because she
was too upset.
Several more police arrived and continued the search of the premises. No items
were removed and no arrests were made.
The woman concluded in her statement,

After they'd done all their searching the police just left. They didn't
say anything. They had broken the lock on my door. Since
then I haven't had a
proper night's sleep. I haven't had a heart attack yet over it, but I'm worried
because I have had a heart attack
once before.

Two other witnesses who lived nearby the 67 year old woman confirmed in
statements that the police had used a sledgehammer to break
open the front door.
They also confirmed that the police were carrying 'big guns', 'long guns'. In
one statement the guns were described
as having ‘long barrels with a light
or torch on top’. The witness described the police searching the woman's
house inducing
'pulling food out of her cupboards and going through the fridge'.
The occupier of the house was described as looking 'very frightened'
and' very

House 6

An occupant of this house stated that police came
running through the front door so fast that they bumped into one another. The
were carrying shotguns. He stated,

They (the police) were shaking. I'd never seen police shake like that
before. I was frightened that they were going to shoot me..
I have no idea why
they had to pull shotguns onto us. They said they were looking for drugs and
guns, but they only searched one
person and found one person had an old warrant.
They took him away.

House 7

At the time of the raid the house was occupied by
two adults and two children aged 6 and 9 years old. The woman in the house made
a statement concerning the events. She stated that she was awoken by a bang and
then about five police entered the bedroom and told
her and the male occupant to
get up. The male was told to lie on the floor; there was a shotgun held towards
his head. The woman
was punched to the other side of the room. The two children
were screaming. The police had a photo of a male person for whom they
searching. The photo was of a different person from the male occupant of the

The woman was questioned about a N and video allegedly in the house. She was
arrested for goods in custody.

Summary of complaints

A number of issues was raised by many of the
occupants of the residences which were raided, These induced the degree of force
by the police both to gain entry and after entering the houses; the
condition in which the houses were left after the searches had
taken place; and
the fact that goods were considered to be unlawfully obtained if the occupants
were unable to produce receipts for
their purchase. Some of the occupants who
were awoken from their sleep by the entry of police into their bedrooms stated
that they
were initially unaware that the intruders were police and that they
were confused as a result of having their sleep disturbed in
such a manner.
Clearly the potential for a struggle with police who were, at least by some
accounts, heavily armed is heightened
under such conditions. The likelihood that
such a struggle could have resulted in serious injury or death for any of the
of the houses was present.

4.5 Redfern Community Meeting

At 12 noon on 8 February a community meeting was
called at the Mundine Gym on the turner of Eveleigh and Vine Streets.
100 Aboriginal people attended me meeting to discuss the morning
red by police. Many of the occupants of the houses which had been
raided were
present at the meeting. The community meeting issued a press release which
covered the main concerns of those who were
present. The meeting expressed
disgust at the police tactics which were used particularly in relation to
elderly people, children
and other persons who were sick. It was noted that the
search warrants were issued on the very day (6 February 1990) earlier in me
when the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody was conducting a
community hearing at the Settlement in Redfern
to discuss, in part particular
aspects of policing practices.

The meeting noted that as a result of the raid no person was charged with a
serious offence. All persons had, by the time of the meeting,
been released on
bat with the exception of one person who had been detained for unpaid fines and
was then in the process of 'cutting
out' that fine. The meeting also noted that
there was a similarity in police tactics between the Redfern raid and the
earlier raid
in April l989 which had resulted in the death of David Gundy.

The meeting called on the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody
to investigate the aid as part of its investigation into
the underlying issues
in relation to the death of David Gundy. The meeting also called for a review of
the system of issuing search
warrants to ensure greater accountability, in
particular that search warrants be issued by a District Court or Supreme Court
rather Man a Justice of the Peace at the Local Court.

4.6 Justifying the Raid

Initial justification for the raid came from the
Sydney District Commander, Executive Chief Superintendent Peate. Peate
rejected claims that the raid was a failure (Sydney Morning
, 9/2/90, p.2). He was reported as saying that the raid had been
conducted in response to requests from the community over concerns
about the
growing incidence of crime and heron abuse in the area during the previous three
months. On this point it is worth considering
that from the available evidence
it appears that the raid netted one charge for the possession of an implement
for the use of drugs,
arising from the alleged confiscation of two 'bongs'.

Peate was also reported as saying that,

our normal surveillance activities can't operate in a place like the black
community. You stand out like you know what. Where do you
survey the activity or
people when they are al the one breed? So you have then got to look at
alternative methods and that was what
today was all about. (Sydney Morning
Herald, 9/2/90, p.2)

The above statement by Peate goes to the heart of why the February 8 raid on
Redfern was fundamentally racist. The raid was a particular
police tactic
specifically designed for -one breed', a red designed for a situation where'
normal surveillance activities' cannot
operate. In other words, particular
police activities are justified on the basis of a racial
category[8]. There is
ample evidence to demonstrate that those activities involved an extraordinary
use of police force. That force was not simply
about gaining entry into eight
residences within The ‘block’ in Redfern. The policing operation was
about (as Peate probably
unwittingly demonstrates) policing Redfern's black
community. Indeed as two journalists noted in the days following the raid, it
was hard to imagine such a raid occurring anywhere else in Sydney (Bernard
Lagan, Sydney Morning Herald, 10/2/90, p.32; Allele Horin, Sydney
Morning Herald
, 13/2/90, p.14). The point of course is that such raids on a community do not occur elsewhere in Sydney.

The most detailed justification for the raid came from the Minister for
Police and Emergency Services, Mr Ted Pickering. The statement
was made in
response to a question in the NSW Legislative Council and was presented to
Council on 22 February 1990. The Minister's
response is based on a
report[9] of the raid
from Chief Inspector Allen Peek, the Patrol Commander of Redfern, to Executive
Chief Superintendent Alf Peate. The Minister
quoted Peek as stating,

The main reason for the operation was the despairing cry for help from the
Aboriginal community The Aboriginal community expressed
a grave concern with the
upsurge of criminal activity, which they feel is directly attributable to the
increase in the usage of hard

The Minister went on to state that the operation 'was mounted to protect the
law-abiding citizens of that area who are, of course,
the vast majority'. The
implication of this statement was that those who criticised the raid were
somehow not part of the'law-abiding'
majority in the Aboriginal community.
Indeed this point was specifically raised later in the Minister's speech where
he juxtaposed
the views of those who complained about the police raid to

the perspective of those who could no longer tolerate what was happening
in their neighbourhood and who demanded that police take
immediate action. These
people will not be complaining about the police raids as damaging to relations
between the Aboriginal community
and police.

Such a simple polarisation of views of course deflects criticism of the
nature of the police operation, it is possible that members of the
Aboriginal community were both concerned about the use of drugs in the community and critical of police operations. Indeed a perusal of the transcript
from the community hearing in Redfern held by the Royal Commission
Aboriginal Deaths in Custody on 6 February 1990 shows that many people were
critical of police tactics and the use of drugs
in the
community[10]. It also
appears that the Community Consultative Committee did request that police take
action against street drug-sellers (Sydney Morning Herald, 10/2/90,
p.32). It is open to question, however, whether such a raid would have any
impact on street drug-sellers, particularly
given that there is no evidence to
suggest that 'drug-sellers' were in fact arrested.

A number of other issues was raised by the Minister in he speech to
Parliament. Accordingly to the Minister an internal police report
showed that
'crime rates generally doubled in the area during the December 1989 quarter and
Mat there 'were big increases in particular
in the categories of house-breaking,
assault, stealing, malicious damage and car stealing. Without the public release
of this report
it is impossible to accurately assess the validity of these dams.
For instance, were the increases in car theft or other categories
of reported
crime any greater in Redfern than other areas of Sydney? Was the increase in the
December quarter of 1988 in any way
abnormal compared to increases in other
December quarters? More importantly the crucial question which is not directly
is whether the particular raid of 8 February 1990 did, or was likely
to, have any effect on those increases in particular criminal

According to the Minister, quoting the internal police report, police
intelligence had advised that

a relatively small number of persons was responsible for a relatively
large proportion of crime in this neighbourhood it was for this
reason that
police decided to target a number of individual premises which were believed to
be used for a range of criminal activities.

Given the evidence already presented in relation to the number of arrests,
the type of arrests, the reasons given for the search warrants
and the results
of the execution of those warrants, and the statements made by individuals whose
houses were raided, it is difficult
to see how the raid could be Justified in
terns of the accuracy of police intelligence.

The Minister's speech attempts to specifically reply to the question,
‘Was the raid an over-response in terms of numbers a officers
present and
in terms of the results of the raid?’ The Minister argues that only 70
officers took part in the raid while the
remaining 65 'were there purely in a
back-up capacity'. The point is somewhat semantic. While 70 officers may have
taken part in
the actual raiding of premises, the remaining 65 were certainly an
integral part of the police operation. There is no dispute that
135 officers
were part of the police Operation Sue, nor that the bulk of those officers, with
the exception of a few who remained
at the Sydney Police Centre to co-ordinate
the operation, were located in the area on the morning of 8 February. According
to the
report from Inspector Peek,

Experience indicates that with a sufficient number of units the likelihood
of injuries to police, citizens and suspects is drastically
reduced. This
strategy is considered to be appropriate and is supported by the fact that no
physical injury was sustained by any

A number a points can be raised in relation to this justification for police
numbers. Clearly saturation policing practices are, in
the short term, likely to
decrease the likelihood of resistance to particular police operations. In the
long term, saturation policing
is likely to increase the breakdown in relations
between a community and the police as it reconfirms perceptions of police
(Cunneen, Findlay, Lynch and Tupper, 1989). Secondly, there is no
discussion of the particular police units which were utilised,
in particular the
TRG. The use of such units is a clear indication that the police were expecting some level of resistance tom the Aboriginal community to the
policing operation. This point is important because it would appear
contradict the earlier claim that the operation was simply mounted as a response
to requests from the Aboriginal community. If
general community support could
have been expected then it is difficult to see why such large numbers of police
were utilised or
indeed why the operation was mounted at 4 o'clock in the

The Minister attempts to sidestep the issue of whether the operation met the
objectives or desired outcomes for police, by stating
that there is little sense
in rearing the quantity of allegedly stolen goods recovered or the numbers of
arrests to the strength
of the police contingent'. He ignores the issue of
whether the raid was compromised' because, according to the Minister, no drugs
were found during the searches. Yet clearly objectives and outcomes need to be
measured by some criteria. If, in this particular
raid. they are not b be
measured by arrests, goods recovered or drugs seized, what is to be regarded as
a suitable performance indicator
for the deployment of such a large scale
policing operation?

There are several final points in relation to evaluating the alleged
'success' of the operation. Firstly police intelligence reports
would appear to
have had limited accuracy when, in the five cases where suspects were named in
the grounds for application for the
search warrants, none of the suspects were
detained. Secondly a number of search warrants related to both drugs and
firearms which
were believed to have been inside a number of premises. These
items were not located. Thirdly it is unlikely that the operation will
have any
major or long term effect on the types of criminal activities which the Minister
had listed as having increased in the area
(car theft, assaults, stealing and
break and enters) both because of the nature of the operation and because
particular suspects
were not located. The most tangible result of the raid was
the further deterioration in Aboriginal/ police relations in the area.

A number of other specific points were raised by the Minister in his speech
to Parliament. In relation to the use of shotguns during
the raid, the Minister
stated that he questioned the Police Commissioner about this matter and was
advised ‘that a direction
was given that shotguns should not be
used in the raid’ [emphasis added]. Of course this statement does not
address the question as to whether shotguns were used
in the raid The Minister
also rejected the claim that there had been some arrangements made between the
police and the resole in
relation to covering the raid.

The Minister in his speech to Parliament emphasised the role of community
policing in Redfern including the Community Consultative
Committee, the
Aboriginal/ police liaison Officers, and the various duties undertaken by
Officers at Redfern Police Station in relation
to outings with Aboriginal youth
in the area. It is interesting to note, however, that the two Aboriginal/ police
liaison officers
in Redfern publicly complained of not being informed about the
raid and threatened to resign as a result (Sydney Morning Herald, 9/2/90,
p.2, ABC Radio News, 9/2/90). More generally though, any community policing
initiatives in Redfern do not provide an explanation
or a justification for the
raid of 8 February. It has been noted elsewhere (Cunneen, 1990) that community
policing and the use of
para-military style police operations should not be seen
as contradictory. Indeed in police thinking the two may be seen as complementary
with community policing providing intelligence for particular operations. At an
ideological level the two forms of policing are also
constructed by police
authorities in a symbiotic relationship where aspects of community policing
function in such a way as to legitimise
paramilitary operations. This
ideological connection between community policing and para-military operations
is precisely what occurred
in relation to the Redfern raid it was argued that
the operation was undertaken as a response to the Redfern Community Consultative
Committee. In addition in the Minister's speech it was argued that those who
opposed the raid were outside the' law-abiding community'.
Thus it was made to
appear that a large scale police operation utilising specialist tactical police
squads and other police from
outside the area (which is the very antithesis of
community policing) was conducted as a result of community policing

4.7 Tactical Response Group (TRG)

It is clear that the TRG had a leading role in
conducting the raid. According to reports the TRG led the raids on individual
It is unknown exactly how many TRG officers were involved in the overall
operation, but one report put the number at 18 (Sydney Morning Herald,
9/2/90, p.2). The TRG is a relatively new phenomenon in NSW policing and it is
important to understand the background to the group's

The TRG was formed In 1982 allegedly as a response to riots at the Bathurst
Motorcycle Races (see Cunneen, Findley, Lynch and Tupper,
1989). Their role as a
specialist riot control group has become institutionalised within the State's
policing apparatus. The group
has its own executive, administrative, operational
and training components. Most importantly it has grown in size and increased its
operational duties during the 1980s. Wardlaw (1986) estimated that the TRG
increased its 'tasking'
rating[11] by tenfold
during its first year of operation. At its inception, it was envisaged by (then)
Assistant Commissioner Ross that the
TAG would be used in

the policing of Corrective Services institutions during industrial
disputes; acting as a response team to large crowd control situations,
demonstrations, disasters, saturation patrols and other serious matters;
supportive element to SWOS in an emergency hostage/siege
situation, Including
the containment and maintenance of controlled perimeters; and such a fees as
maybe deemed advisable in view
of their specialised veining.
(cited in
Cunneen, 1985, p,74).

A summary of equipment available to the TRG can be found in Cunneen (1985,
pp.75-76). Equipment and training includes shotguns.

With regionalisatlon of the NSW police, the TRG is now divided into groups of
25 personnel for the four regions. South Region TRG
(which covers Redfern)
contains one senior sergeant, six sergeants and 18 constables. These personnel
form the permanent operational
TRG. There is however an unknown number of other
general duties officers in each region who are trained TRG officers and are
as situations arise.

TRG personnel have been used on many occasions in the policing of rural and
urban Aboriginal communities, including Bourke, Brewarrina,
Walgett, Dubbo,
Wilcannia, Cobar and Redfern. In Bourke the TRG were flown into the town to
police a demonstration by Aboriginal
People. The demonstration was itself
concerned with perceived discrimination by the criminal justice system against
Aboriginal people
(Cunneen and Robb, 1987). In Brewarrina the TRG was flown in
to conduct street patrols after an Aboriginal man. LIoyd Boney, was
found hanged
in the police cells. The TRG has visited other country towns (such as Dubbo) as
a result of complaints about the breakdown
in law and order. Such complaints had
been specifically directed against Aboriginal people (Cunneen, 1989). The
information provided
in previous sections of this report indicates that the TAG
has been involved in a number of controversial raids involving Aboriginal
in Redfern.

The use of the TRG in the policing of Aboriginal communities has, from the
outset, been the subject of controversy. Shortly after
the TRG was established,
the NSW Police Association requested that the Police Department form TRG units
in Moree and other north-western
towns. Moree was itself the site of intense
conflict between Aborigines and police during the early 1980s. In rejecting the
request, Assistant Commissioner Graham, on behalf of the Police
Department, stated

The attendance of Tactical Response Group personnel at Moree or other
county centres where racial problems exist could lead to feelings
of provocation
on life part of come people and lead to unnecessary confrontations.
Police News
, Vol. 64, No.4, October 1983)

By the mid-eighties police thinking had changed to the extent that it became
acceptable to fly in TRG police specifically to corral
Aboriginal people in
rural areas. We have also witnessed their increasing use in Redfern during the
late 1980s. The change indicated
an important reversal in policing policy which
now legitimised the reliance on pro-active, paramilitary police squads to
order - even in the face of overseas evidence that such policing
methods could polarise resistance to state intervention (Scarman,

TRG was established as a fast response police tactical unit capable of being
deployed anywhere in the State at short notice. It
was noted after their
establishment that such groups, although originally established to deal with a
specific threat', soon develop
at an operational level to incorporate many of
the more usual functions of general duties policing (Cunneen, Findlay, Lynch and
1989, p.120). In addition the structure of the TRG seems designed to
ensure that a sense of independence and elitism develops. There
is the risk of
alienation from the concerns of mainstream general duties policing.

Perhaps most importantly is the implied admission with the establishment and
use of the TRG, that 'relations between the normal civil
policing agencies and
certain sections of the public have deteriorated to such an extent so as to
necessitate a paramilitary response'
(Cunneen, Findlay, Lynch and Tupper, 1989,
p.121). It has been noted that the very nature of the TRG means that,

It is not required to construct localised relationships or networks but to
be ready to respond to situations judged in advance to
be problematic and as
likely to warrant special tactics and usually force... Such squads are also
equipped with the weaponry and
technology which permits, and perhaps event
encourages, them to [resort to force].
(Hogg. 1986, p.50)

Of fundamental importance to the questions of Aboriginal police relations and
notions of community policing is the fact that the TRG
is the very antithesis of
any notice of a relationship between poise and community. There is a
predetermined absence of any relationship
to a local community. One consequence
of tactical response policing is that there is no requirement to consider the
long term effects
of particular methods of control. In addition, because of the
nature and duties of the squad, the style of intervention is likely
to revolve
around the routine use of force. The consequences of such poling methods s
further antagonism, alienation and resistance
from those groups the subject of

The TRG was formed along similar lines to the Special Patrol Group (SPG) in
London. Lord Scarman (1981) in his report on the Brixton
disorders paid
particular attention to the use of the SPY and was critical of the use of
pro-active specialist squads in local communities.
Scarman argued that such
tactics challenged the authority and effectiveness of local police, and
jeopardised accountability, connotation
and community policing strategies. This
type of intervention was particularly dangerous where there were local racial
tensions. However
in the decade since Scarman wrote his report, the trend has
been to institutionalise the rte of tactical response police. As other
on the TRG has concluded,

The style of tactical response policing moves from reactive or
'fire-brigade' policing to pro-active, pre-emptive policing Tactical
policing has developed as the principal police response to social 'menaces' so
diverse as vandalism, industrial disputation,
racial unrest and soon.
(Cunneen, Findlay, Lynch and Tupper, 1989, p.123)

The use of the TRG in Aboriginal communities has had the effect of
galvanising Aboriginal opposition to particular forms of policing
and of
increasing feelings of harassment. Goodall (1990) has outlined the effects of
the use of the TRG in Brewarrina. The effect
in Bourke has also been to
reinforce a perception of excessive policing (Cunneen and Robb, 1987, p.186).
Perhaps the most telling
example of me way such police methods can be absorbed
into a consciousness of police harassment was the case of the 67 year old
woman in Redfern referred to earlier in this report. She was unaware
of the counsel: title of the TRG. She knew enough however to
be able to refer to
the police officers as the 'tactical group of police'. In the same statement she
states that she challenged the
police while they were searching her house, and
after they had broken in the front door, as behaving like 'Gestapos'.

The NSW Ombudsman's Office has been conducting an inquiry into the TRG in
relation to four raids, other than the Redfern raid, where
there have been
allegations of misconduct by TRG officers. One raid on a family of four in
Mascot involved the execution of a search
warrant at approximately 4am. The male
occupant was held at gunpoint and allegedly assaulted. The officers finally
realised they
had the wrong person and apologised (Sydney Morning Herald,
16/2/90, p.1). The raid occurred less than two weeks after the Redfern raid.
While the results of the Ombudsman's inquiry have not
yet been determined, the
Ombudsman has acknowledged that there 'has been considerable public anxiety'
over the use of force by the
TRG (NSW Office of the Ombudsman, 1990). It is
expected that the Ombudsman's Office will recommend a departmental review of TAG
procedures, control and accountability.

The Law Society of NSW has also called for an urgent Government inquiry into
a number of bungled raids including those conducted by
the TAG (Sydney
Morning Herald
, 20/2/90, p.7).

4.8 New South Wales Office of the Ombudsman

The NSW Office of the Ombudsman is currently
conducting an -investigation into the police raid in Redfern. Papers were
forwarded to
the Office from the Redfern ALS. Of concept to the ALS, and
residents the subject of the raid, were the military nature of the operation
the view that the operation was calculated to intimidate the Aboriginal
residents of Racism collectively. In addition the process
by which the search
warrants were issued was raised as an issue of concern.

The Ombudsman's investigation is being conducted under Section 16 of the
Ombudsman's Act and will examine the administrative decision-making
involved in the raid. As such the investigation will not be referred to the
Police Department's Internal Affairs directly
for investigation. By conducting
the investigation in such a manner the normal 180 day turn around period within
Internal Affairs
will be bypassed, and as such the conclusion to the
investigation should be shorter than the usual period. The conduct to be
by the Office includes the assessment of the information and
intelligence on which the operation was based; the planning of the operation;
the notification of the operation to the media; the conduct of the police
officers searching the premises; and the contact between
police and the media
following the operation.

4.9 Royal Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

Two days prior to the raid on Redfern, the Royal
Commission Into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody held a community hearing at the
in Redfern. The purpose of the hearing was to examine the use of the
Intoxicated Persons Act in relation to Aboriginal people. The
hearing was held
as part of the examination of underlying issues arising out of the death of Paul

In relation to the later mid, probably the most significant evidence
presented was an admission by Chief Inspector Peek that the TNT
Towers, adjacent
to Redfern railway Sharon, were used by Peace as an observation point.
Aboriginal people in Redfern had been claiming
since mid-1989 that the police
had been using the top of the TNT Towers as a point from which to 'spy' through
binoculars on the

According to Peek,

The TNT Towers have been unhand as a vantage spot for streets within the
Redfern patrol... It's a vantage point that can act as a
deterrent against
crime... As far as spying on the community, it’s not spying on the
community the way! see it We re not 0$7g
on the community for some covert
action. it's mainly used for operations in relation m crime that has been
contested within the patrol

As already indicated, the community meeting held in Redfern immediately
following the raid called an the Royal Commission to investigate
the raid as
part of its inquiry into Aboriginal/police relations. Commissioner Wootten
responded on 9 February 1980 by announcing
a fearing for 15 February 1990 to
hear submissions as to how the Royal Commission should conduct its inquiry into
relations including Redfern. In his media release Commissioner
Wootten noted The widespread public concern about the circumstances
and methods
of the raid.. including the parallels drawn with the operation which led to the
death in custody of David Gundy'.

On 15 February 1990 Commissioner Wootten heard submissions from Counsel
representing the NSW Government, the NSW Police Association,
NAILSS and Counsel
assisting the Commission. Counsel for the NSW Government and the NSW Police
Association challenged the Royal Commission's
power to investigate Aboriginal/
police relations in Redfern as being outside its terms of reference. Paul Coe,
appearing for NAILSS,
argued that the Royal Commission could investigate aspects
of the raid, particularly ‘risk factors’ which affect
relations. Risk factors in relation to the raid were 'the use
of warrants to effect an entry to premises in the early hours of the
the use of armed police to carry out that entry and the numbers of police that
are used' (Transcripts of Proceedings, Royal Commission into Aboriginal
Deaths in Custody, Sydney, 15/2/90, p.32).

In his later decision on the consideration of Aboriginal/police relations,
Commissioner Wootten did not specifically mention the Redfern
raid. He proposed,
however, to convene a structured conference session to hear submissions on the
subject of Aboriginal/police relations.
No doubt aspects of the raid will be
raised by interested parties.

4.10 National Aboriginal and Islander Legal Services Secretariat (NAILSS)

NAILSS is initiating an action in the NSW Supreme
Court in relation to the issue of the warrants and the raid. An earlier ruling
the NSW Supreme Court (Patten v JP Redfern; Wells & Keen, [1986]
22 A Crim R 94) held that a Justice in issuing a search warrant cannot simply
rubber-stamp the belief of a police officer
seeking a warrant. The Justice must
torn an independent view as to the adequacy of the grounds for the issue of a
warrant. In the
above case the all was en Aboriginal person whose residence in
Redfern was the subject of a search warrant.

In addition NAILSS has drawn out the links between the Redfern raid and the
police killing of David Gundy, in particular the extreme
use of force in
situations which could have been conducted in 'more peaceable and less
potentially lethal circumstances'. NAILSS
has argued before the Royal Commission
into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody,

since the Coroner's exculpation of the police in the Gundy inquest it is open
for the Commissioner to draw the inference Nat the police
are interpreting the
Coroner's ruling and recommendations to the Attorney General as an implicit
carte blanche on violent raids on
Aboriginal households.

5. Conclusion and Recommendations

1. On the evidence available, it can be concluded that over policing, Including
the excessive use of force, occurs In the Redfern
Aboriginal community.

There is a history W torn
plans relating to police practices in Redfern which dates back at least to the
original establishment of
the ALS in 1970. Many of these complains relate to
both discriminatory policing practices and the excessive use of force by police.
Redfern has often been presented by the NSW Plea Association and the media as
potentially a 'no-go,
area[12]. There a
however evidence of over-policing rather than under-policing, both in the level
of intervention the number of police used
in particular situations, the
extensive use of foot and vehicle patrols) and in the nature of the intervention
(the use of particular
squads such as the TRG).

Two incidents in 1989, relating to the death of David Gundy and the police
operation In Alexandria Park, were of particular concern
to the Aboriginal
community. These two incidents involved the use of firearms by police in
operations Involving the execution of
warrants. In the case of David Gundy an
innocent person was kited. In the Alexandria Park indent there was an
unacceptably high risk
of innocent persons being injured or killed.

2. It would be appropriate for the National Inquiry into Racist violence to seek
a departmental review of the role, status and authority
of Aboriginal-Police
Liaison Officers.

There is evidence in this report that
Aboriginal-Police Liaison Officers in Redfern had their advice ignored (in the
Alexandria Park
incident) and were net informed of major policing operations
involving the Redfern Aboriginal community (as in the raid of 8 February
Clearly the role of the liaison officers hands careful evaluation. It would
appear that particular police operations and practices
constantly undermine the
positive functions which such positions could fulfil. Rather than serving to
facilitate any improvement
in Aboriginal-police relations, the undermining of
the functions of the liaison officers serves to discredit the authority of such
officers and to create the impression that these officers have little influence
over policing issues in Aboriginal communities.

3. It would be appropriate for the National Inquiry into racist Violence to seek
a departments review of the role of the Tactical
Response Group in Aboriginal
communities, in particular their apparent reliance on excessive force.

There have been several complaints in the late 1980s
which relate specifically to the use of the TRG. There has also been an
use of the TRG in policing operations in Redfern during the late
1980s. The apparently routine use of the TRG in Redfern needs to
be seriously
questioned. Such a use of the group undermines any commitment to community
policing. The nature of the TRG, as a fast
response tactical police unit without
ties to any locality, is the antithesis of community policing. In addition the
nature of the
group (both in training and operational duties) predisposes it
towards an excessive reliance on force. There is evidence from Redfern
elsewhere in NSW that the use of the TRG in policing Aboriginal communities has
functioned to increase polarisation between Aboriginal
people and the

4. On the evidence available, the police operation conducted in Redfern on 8
February 1990 involved an excessive use of force.

The signed statements by persons who were subject of
the raid indicates that excessive force was used in the execution of search

The excessive use of force had the potential to cause serious injury or death
to innocent persons, including children and the elderly.

Given the number of statements by witnesses, and the training, available
firpower and routine functions of the TRG, it is likely that
shotguns were used
in the raid.

5. in relation to the raid, it would therefore be appropriate for the National
Inquiry into Racist Violence to seek departmental
clarification on procedures
and accountability for the following points.

(i) The conditions under which the search warrants
were issued are of concern. That such a large number of search warrants could
be issues simultaneously as part of a single policing operation, based on police
intelligence which yielded so little result, is
of grave concern. It is
appropriate that the mechanism for the issue of search warrants be reviewed.
Such a review needs to critically
examine both whether Local Court Justice of
the Pace should retain power to issue such warrants, and the nature of the
required of police for the issue of search warrants.

(ii) Given the nature of the charges and the results of the execution of the
search warrants, clearly both appropriateness and the
effectiveness of the
police operation must be questioned. It is difficult to see, given the results,
that there was an appropriate
police response in terms of the planning of the
operations, the number of police involved, the type of police units used, or the
particular tactics employed.

(iii) Again, given the results of the operation, it is difficult to see how
such an operation could be regarded as ‘successful’
in terms of:

  • operational
  • the expenditure
    of public resources;
  • the number of
  • the effect on
    specific crime rates;
  • the effect on
    the Redfern Aboriginal community;
  • the effect on
    Aboriginal /police relations generally.

6. It is open to the National Inquiry into Racist Violence to find that the
‘Redfern raid’ constituted an act of racist
violence within its
terms of reference.

Justification for the raid was based on the
perceived racial characteristics of Aboriginal people. Sydney District Commander
was reported as referring to the Redfern Aboriginal community as
‘one breed’ where normal surveillance and policing activities
do not
operate. Thus, a notion of ’race’ was used as a prediction of
particular social characteristics. Those social
characteristics implied a social
abnormality. The community itself was defined in a particular manner rather than
alleged criminals
within the community.

At an operational level, particular policing practices were legitimised on
the basis of ‘race’. The practices included
surveillance (such as
the use of the TNT Towers in Redfern), and a large scale policing operation in
the early hours of the morning
(the raid). The simultaneous execution of the
search warrants and the number and type of police involved indicated that the
operation was, from its inception, designed as an operation in relation
to a particular community rather than a series of individuals.
It is appropriate
therefore to consider these policing practices as constituting institutional
racism where the perceived difference
of the Aboriginal community was used to
legitimise an exceptional use of State force.

The use of force in the policing operation thus constituted an act of most
violence. The violence which occurred involved physical
violence (alleged
assaults on some individuals), psychological violence (many witnesses stated
they were terrified) and violence
to property (during forced entry into houses
and during the conduct of searches). In addition the act of racist violence can
be considered
as an act against the Redfern Aboriginal community, as well as
those particular individuals who were affected. The policing operation
designed in relation to the community and the effects of the raid were felt by
the community, as demonstrated by the attendance
at the community meeting
following the raid.


Anti-Discrimination Board (1982) A Study of
Street Offences by Aborigines
, NSW Anti-Discrimination Board, Sydney.

Cunneen, C. (1985) 'A Garrison State', Arena, No.71, pp.67-89.

Cunneen, C. (1989) 'Constructing A Law and Order Agenda', Aboriginal Law
, Vol. 2, No. 38, pp.6-9.

Cunneen, C. (1990) 'Aborigines and Law and Order Regimes', Journal for
Social Justice Studies
, Vol.3, pp.37-50.

Cunneen, C., Findlay, M., Lynch, R. and Tupper, V. (1989) The Dynamics of
Collective Conflict,
Law Book Company. North Ryde.

Cunneen, C. and Robb, T. (1987) Criminal Justice in North-West NSW,
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. Sydney.

Goodall. H. (1990) ‘Policing In Whose Interest?’, Journal for
Social Justice Studies
, Vol-3, pp.19-36.

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, (1989) National Inquiry into
Racist Violence, Transcripts of Public Hearing, Redfern,
24 August 1989.

Hogg, R. (1984)' NSW Tactical Response Group' in Brown, D., Hogg, R.,
Phillips, R.. Boehringer, G. and Zdenkowski, G. (eds) ‘Policing:
Practices, Strategies, Accountability’, Alternative Criminology
, Sydney.

Lyons, G. (1984) 'Aboriginal Legal Services, in Hanks, P. and Keon-Cohen, B.
(eds) Aborigines And The Law, Allen and Unwin, Sydney.

NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (1973) Petty Sessions
, Statistical Report No 11, Department of Attorney General, Sydney.

NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (1984) Intoxicated Persons
, Department of Attorney General, Sydney.

NSW Office of the Ombudsman (1985) Annual Report 1984/85. NSW
Government Printer, Sydney.

NSW Office of the Ombudsman (1989) 'Inadequate Training and Procedures of the
Special Weapons and Operations Squad', Special Report to Parliament under
Section 31 of the Ombudsman Act and Section 32 of the Police Regulation
(Allegations of Misconduct)
, Sydney.

NSW Office of the Ombudsman (1990)' Failure of the Commissioner of Police to
take satisfactory action in relation to previous recommendations
of the
Ombudsman concerning a review of the Special Weapons and Operations Squad
procedures and instructions', Special Report to Parliament under Section 31
of the Ombudsman Act and Section 32 of the Police Regulation (Allegations of

Ruddock Report (1980), Report of the House of Representatives Standing
Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Aboriginal Legal Aid. Australian
Government Publishing Service, Canberra.

Scarman, Lord (1981) Report of the Inquiry into the Brixton Disorders, 10-12 April 1981, Cmd 8427, HMSO, London.

Tickner, R (1982) ‘Sector Policing’ Aboriginal Law
, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp.3-4.

Wardlaw, G. (1988)' Police Tactical Units', in Swanton, B. and Hannigan, G.,
Police Source Book, (Vol. 2), Australian Institute of
Criminology, Canberra.

Wootten, H. (1974)' Aboriginal Legal Services' in Nettheim, G. (ed) Aborigines Human Rights and the Law, Australian and New Zealand Book
Company, Sydney.

[1] A limitation in
compiling the research material has been the lack of records suitable to the
research task. The NSW Office of the
Ombudsman has not, in the past, provided
statistics in relation to police complaints which specified the Aboriginality of
the complainant,
the nature of the complaint against police, or the region from
which it originated. Similarly the records held by the ALS are not
in a way which would indicate the nature or locality of particular policing
operations. In addition all the files held
by the Redfern ALS prior to March
1985 were destroyed in a fire on the

[2] In
later years the Ombudsman’s Office commented on the improper use of the Intoxicated Persons Act. ‘Complaints ... suggest its [Intoxicated
Persons Act] arbitrary misuse to secure temporary unappealable lock up of
persons thought to be hostile to police authority’ (NSW Office
of the Ombudsman, 1985, p.129). See also NSW Office of the Ombudsman, Annual
, 1985/86, 1986/87 and

[3] There is
some discrepancy over the time of the police arrival. Some statements by
Aboriginal people in Redfern put the arrival time
closer to

[4] According to
the Minister for Police and Emergency Services the operation involved 10
premises in four streets (Ted Pickering, NSW
Legislative Council, 22 February
1990). However information provided to the ALS and NAILSS relates to the raid
on eight

[5] Eight
arrests according to ALS, 10 arrests according to the NSW Police

[6] ‘Goods in custody’ refers to the alleged possession of goods
suspected of being stolen or otherwise unlawfully

[7] The
information was collected by staff of NAILSS and Redfern

[8] In addition
the reference to Aboriginal people as ‘one breed’ evokes ideas of a
racial group who are fundamentally different
and dangerous, and, therefore,
requiring extreme forms of

[9] Letters
were written on 23 February 1990, 20 April 1990 and 4 May 1990 by the Human
Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission to the
Police Commissioner and
subsequently to the Police Minister for a copy of the report. As yet the
letters have not been acknowledged
and no response had been

[10] In
addition, one can question how seriously police in the region took the
community’s complaints about police tactics. That
is, while it was
possible for the police to justify the raid, was there any similar large scale
police operation mounted to investigate
the community’s concern in
relation to allegations of misconduct by

[11] Tasking refers to the actual number of tasks performed. Some of these tasks
will involve routine duties, while others will involve
more specific, particular
duties and

[12] See, for instance, the Sydney Morning Herald, 24/5/89, p.2; Sydney
Morning Herald
, 25/5/89 p.14; Daily Mirror, 25/5/89 p.8; NSW
Police News
, September 1989, p.16.