Drop Labels – Squad names cause concern

Courtesy of The Torch - 28/4/2010

Drop Labels – Squad names cause concern


Concerns have been raised about race-based naming of police crime squads, and Canterbury’s Multicultural Advisory Committee (MAC) has written to Minister for Police Michael Daley requesting names such as the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad be dropped.

Councillor and MAC chairperson Karl Saleh said concerns have been raised since November, when the Committee proposed that the use of ethnic origins for naming crime squads be discontinued.

“The community representatives on the committee expressed concern that labelling squads according to ethnicity may single out specific communities as being the source of significant levels of crime – reflecting on the entire community,” Cr Saleh said.

“They are seeking a way that police can identify offenders without the need to link behaviour of individuals or groups to a specific community.”

MAC member Masood Chowdhury said they would like to see their proposal brought into action.

“Police calling them by the ethnic names like the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad is not good for our community because we’re all Australian,” he said.

“In Canterbury, a multicultural city, it’s a shame when they separate residents by race, that’s not right. We feel we’re all Australian and they should call us Australian. I feel they’re separating us from Australia, that coloured people are second class citizens.”

But Mr. Daley’s office defended race-based naming.

“Organised crime, in particular, has often relied on links of language, culture, family, community, even religion to enforce loyalty and a code of silence and the victims of ethnic-based organised crime gangs are predominantly members of that same community,” a spokesperson for Mr Daley told the Torch.

“One reason for having a Middle-Eastern Crime Squad or having an Asian Crime Squad, for example, is to give confidence to the victims of crime within those communities that there is a dedicated group of detectives they can rely on to investigate the offences and go after the perpetrators.”

“Members of the Asian and Middle Eastern communities are not being targeted based on ethnicity.”

“The NSW Police Force and the NSW Government support the continued use of ethnic descriptors as a matter of policy.”