Police could be abetting an offence by dressing non-sworn officers in blue Police uniforms with police hats, the Green Party Police Spokesperson Keith Locke says.
“Every person, other than a police officer, commits an offence under Part 3 Section 51A of the Police Act if they use any uniform or item of uniform in circumstances likely to lead any person to believe the user is a genuine member of the Police,” Mr Locke says.
“This offence of impersonating a police officer is taken so seriously, the law holds that even the prior approval of the Police Commissioner cannot authorise such action, if it should result in people being misled that the user is a real police officer.
“The law is strong on this point for very good reason. The extensive powers that society grants the police force is done on the basis they are fully trained and able to protect the public.
“The news that ordinary citizens are being sworn in as ‘temporary constables’ is therefore very disturbing,” Mr Locke says.
“The public stand to be left totally confused between police who are real police, people in uniforms who are really security guards with no powers of arrest, people in what look like police uniforms who are really only temporary constables with minimal training, and people who are really out there trying to impersonate police officers.
“Such potential confusion puts the public at risk. If people are being attacked or robbed, they need to have certainty that the person in the blue uniform really is a police officer.
“The whole process seems to be being driven by cost cutting. If ordinary citizens are to be employed in a support role for police, they should, as a first resort, be trained security firm personnel.
“If ‘temporary constables’ are to be used, they must be dressed in in an unmistakably different uniform, of a quite different colour.”