Aboriginal deaths and tribal beliefs
In the case of Aboriginal Australians in regional and remote areas, be aware that releasing the names of deceased people can run counter to cultural beliefs. Police Media will endeavour to notify the media if it is aware such circumstances apply.
Australian National Child (Sex) Offender Register. The ANCOR Unit is responsible for the ongoing management, registration and monitoring of people convicted of sex offences. It also proactively targets high-risk reportable offenders in Western Australia. For more details on the requirements of the ANCOR register, refer to the Community Protection (Offender Reporting) Act 2004.
Automatic Number Plate Recognition camera that can “read” vehicle registration plates within seconds to identify vehicles registered to suspended drivers, parole violators or people wanted on court issued bench warrants. The tool is valuable for both traffic and criminal purposes and its use is generally associated with planned operations. The ANPR is also known as the “Argus” in Western Australia.
Aboriginal Police Liaison Officer. In 2005 APLOs who wished to transition to sworn officer status did so. Most have since done so, however a small number wished to remain APLOs and their status has been maintained. While Aboriginal people may no longer enter the police as APLOs, there are several still serving in the WA Police.
Police do not disclose amounts of money stolen, because it is information that will aid an investigation if the public are not made aware. Experience also shows that the media identifying robberies yielding large sums induces copycat behaviour. For this reason alone it is not in the interests of public safety for the media to identify any organisations or individuals that could be regarded as ‘soft targets’. Media are encouraged to simply say a “large sum of money” or a “small sum of money”.
Arson Squad is advised of all suspicious fires and explosions. It investigates fires, including bushfires, where there is significant damage to property, death or injury occurs or where the fire has been identified as a deliberate criminal act. Arson Squad works closely with FESA fire investigators.
Automatic Vehicle Location. A feature of the new Police Metropolitan Radio Network that allows the Police Operations Centre to constantly pinpoint the location of operational police vehicles. This not only maximises operational response for the public but aids officer safety through the POC knowing at all times where patrol vehicles are situated.
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Blood Alcohol Content. A reference to a BAC reading is the measurement of blood alcohol content in a person’s bloodstream, such as .05% etc.
The science of the travel of a projectile in flight. For example the flight path of a bullet includes: travel down the barrel, path through the air, and path through a target. Ballistics is also a branch within the Forensic Division that specialises in the same field, for criminal investigation purposes.
Lenco Bearcat Armoured Police Rescue Vehicle (APRV). This specially-constructed V-8 diesel turbo powered 4WD is used primarily to rescue seriously injured people who may be helpless and unprotected at a major incident. It is deployed by the Tactical Response Group. The Bearcat replaced the Saracen armoured personnel carrier, which remains operational.
Material that harbours or transmits micro-organisms.
Bomb hoaxes and threats
The WA media have abided by a long-standing agreement not to publicise bomb threats and hoaxes, except in exceptional circumstances. This is to discourage copycat behaviour and avoid unnecessarily alarming the public regarding what are known to be hoax incidents. The media are encouraged to use the terms “suspicious packages” or “suspicious items,” not “suspected bombs”. For advice on reporting “white powder” incidents, contact Police Media.
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The Computer Aided Dispatch Communications system, used by the Police Operations Centre (POC) at Midland to dispatch and monitor police tasking.
Camera operators and photographers
Media camera operators and photographers have a right to film events from a public place (or private place if they have lawful access), as long as police are satisfied they are safe and their actions are not likely to impede legitimate police operations or investigations.
Police officers can lawfully restrict the media from entering crime scenes, areas in which they may be in danger, or other “declared” areas under criminal or emergency management legislation.
Police receive training in working with the media.
They will generally restrict access to crime scenes and other sensitive operational areas, but where camera operators can legitimately obtain pictures from a distance, this will be facilitated.
Protecting the dignity of victims or relatives (eg: fatal crash scenes where relatives are in attendance) will be carefully assessed by attending officers against the media’s right to cover the story. Officers are provided with training in this area.
WA’S Corruption & Crime Commission. The CCC’s mandate includes investigation and oversight of police professional standards and corruption prevention. All internal investigations conducted by the Corruption Prevention and Investigation Portfolio of the WA Police are overseen by the CCC.
Closed Circuit Television or security vision.
Corporate Executive Team. The WA Police’s highest-level senior management group, chaired by the Commissioner of Police.
Charges and sentencing
Once charges are laid, the charge and basic information about what police will allege will be provided to the media, however the person’s name and other essential details must not be released to the media until after the person’s first court appearance.
This preserves that person’s right to apply to a court to have their name suppressed.
While this is rarely granted, police have an obligation to not undermine this right of application.
However, in order for the media to follow such matters through the court system, police media releases contain the alleged offender(s) name below a disclaimer, in a separate part of the release not for publication.
This section of the release recommends the media not report people’s names before their first court appearance, although this is a judgement media organisations must make for themselves.
Journalists are advised that once charges have been laid and the matter is before the courts (“sub judice”) police will not disclose information that:
- Points to the state of mind of the alleged offender at the time of the offence;
- Discloses a prior criminal record;
- Shows a motive;
- Implies the person may have committed other crimes, whether related or not;
- Indicates confessions or statements have been obtained;
- Reveals whether the person has consented to tests, examinations or identification parades;
- Shows the person has been taken to a crime scene;
- Has identified other persons of interest; or
- Suggests a person is a known drug user or associate of known criminals.
After conviction and/or sentencing
- Police will, in general, refrain from making extensive comments to the public following conviction and/or sentencing, irrespective of whether the result is a guilty verdict or not.
- In general terms, police comments will be limited.
- Media organisations are referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions if they wish to pursue the matter further.
- This approach is consistent with the long-standing separation of powers convention in the Westminster system of government, in which elected governments, police and the judiciary are kept separate.
Child Abuse Squad
This squad investigates sexual and serious physical abuse of children, and the neglect of children.
Criminal Investigation Act 2006.
Computer Crime Squad
This squad investigates criminal activity that is undertaken predominantly through the use of computers. It has specialist technical knowledge and equipment. Offences include online financial fraud, online theft, stalking and targeted theft of data or computer infrastructure.
Constable Care Child Safety Foundation. Constable Care is not part of the WA Police, but strongly supported by police. It is a non-profit community based organisation based in Maylands that provides early intervention education programs to primary school children. Good examples are the delivery of puppet shows and plays, and the distribution of promotional materials such as “care bears” which are carried in all traffic vehicles and given to traumatised children involved in traffic and other serious incidents.
Among the priority themes covered by Constable Care are bullying and child sex offending.
Acronym commonly used for Commissioner of Police in Australian police jurisdictions, except Victoria where the acronym is CCOP (Chief Commissioner of Police).
Under the Coroner’s Act, police may not pre-empt the Coroner’s findings into the cause of death of an individual.
Police understand, however, that the public have a valid right to know preliminary information about a death.
Names of deceased are generally not released for 24 hours after death, in order to allow the deceased’s family to be notified and reduce the risk of learning first of the death through the news media.
Journalists are strongly encouraged to respect this rule, even where they are able to rapidly obtain names and photographs through sources other than police.
On occasion, media unwittingly film or approach officers without being aware that they are involved in covert policing work.
Journalists are contacted by Police Media in the rare instances that this might occur, and given advice not to use that material or disclose information. The media is aware that covert police work is potentially highly dangerous and the media unwittingly or deliberately compromising covert operations can terminate large and expensive investigations and place such officers at great personal risk.
For the same reasons, journalists who become aware of covert techniques utilised by police are asked not to disclose them at any time.
Corruption Prevention & Investigation Portfolio. The role of CPI is to proactively focus on corruption prevention, quality internal investigations and best practice complaint management through the Police Complaints Administration Centre. The Internal Affairs Unit is the component of CPI responsible for identifying, investigating and prosecuting corrupt behaviour in the WA Police. It also develops and implements strategies to minimise opportunities for corruption by assessing the behaviour and conduct of police officers, investigating corruption or serious misconduct and develops action plans. Investigations may include unauthorised release of information, improper use of computers, drug use, improper associations, secondary employment and integrity checks. The WA Police is required to report any suspected corrupt or criminal conduct to the Corruption and Crime Commission. The Assistant Commissioner CPI reports directly to the Commissioner of Police.
Crime Stoppers has been a highly successful program within police since the mid-1980s and is the major means by which the public can provide vital information about crimes to police.
Crime Stoppers is a non-police organisation chaired by a board and associated with police through a legal agreement.
While marketing and promotion of Crime Stoppers are managed by its board, daily operations are handled and controlled by WA Police’s Specialist Crime Portfolio. Crime Stoppers is currently located in Curtin House. The number is 1800 333 000.
Federal CrimTrac Agency. CrimTrac manages the NAFIS fingerprint database on behalf of all Australian police jurisdictions.
The Counter Terrorism portfolio is concerned with preparation and planning for terrorism incidents. Exercises and training are frequently conducted by the CT portfolio, which also has an investigative capacity. WA Police is involved in the National Counter-Terrorism Committee (NCTC).
Cyber Predator Team
Part of Specialist Crime Portfolio. A squad of specialist investigators that targets paedophiles who use the internet to meet children for the purposes of abusing or exploiting them. One of the investigative methods used is investigators posing online as children in order to identify offenders. Cyber-predator also conducts educational work in association with schools, and has close links with similar squads interstate and overseas.
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District Crime Team. Each metropolitan police district has its own DCT, responsible for planned responses and coordinated investigations into local volume-crime activity. District Crime Teams develop action plans for operations based on available intelligence and crime-trend data. Suburban detectives’ offices, by comparison, deal with criminal investigations into matters that don’t typically fit this framework (eg: random crimes, such as GBH).
Deaths in custody
Police will notify the public of a death in custody, or any death resulting from a police action, which is investigated on behalf of the Coroner.
The CCC has oversight of all such investigations and can elect to be directly involved in an investigation.
Police will not speculate on the cause of death in advance of the investigation being completed and the file forwarded to the Coroner.
Dignitary Protection Unit. This unit provides personal protection to Australian and overseas dignitaries in Western Australia.
District Response Groups
Country police districts maintain tactical capabilities, through local teams of officers given specialised training in tactical activities by the TRG. DRGs provide such support until the arrival of the TRG from Perth.
Deoxyribonucleic acid. The protein found in cell chromosomes often referred to as the ‘genetic fingerprint’. Used to identify plants, animals and humans. DNA profiling began in Australia in 1988, and has assisted police in thousands of investigations since. WA is linked to all Australian states via the national DNA database and has the second largest number of DNA samples after Queensland. In WA, testing for police is carried out by Pathwest, with more than 60,000 samples tested in 2007. Urgent samples are tested in less than 24 hours, while property crime samples are completed within a month, unless prioritised for investigative reasons.
District Officer. The most senior officer in a police district – Superintendent rank.
The Dog Squad is based at the Maylands Police Complex. Its dogs are either general-purpose, for assisting with the tracking and capture of offenders and missing persons, or drug-detection dogs. Each dog has its own handler.
Double demerit point penalties are aimed at deterring bad driving behaviour on long weekends and holiday periods. Double demerit penalties apply to speeding, drink driving (only .05) and seat belt offences.
Detective Training School. The DTS is a specialised section of the Joondalup Police Academy, that focuses on basic and advanced training for plain-clothes investigators.
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Executive Director. The ED is the most senior unsworn position in the WA Police, in charge of a range of non-operational areas, including human resources, assets and finance.
The Metropolitan Regional Investigations Unit generally takes a lead role in recapturing prison escapees. All escapees are to be regarded as dangerous.
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Forward Looking Infra Red. The FLIR is a heat-sensitive imaging system. The WA Police helicopter, Polair 61, is fitted with a FLIR camera that is particularly effective at night. FLIR assists officers on the ground in tracking offenders in the dark; it is also a key tool in land searches.
Forensic Division is located in a purpose-built facility at Midland, alongside the Police Operations Centre.
The division’s functions include fingerprint and DNA services, crime-scene planning, and ballistics.
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Gang Crime Squad
Gang Crime is part of the Specialist Crime Portfolio within the Organised Crime Division. It inquires into the activities of gangs involved in organised crime, including outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMCGs).
The semi-automatic 40-calibre Austrian-made Glock is the standard sidearm issued to WA Police officers. Glocks are “safe-action” firearms with three internally constructed safety mechanisms to ensure they cannot be discharged accidentally. WAPOL Glocks are issued on two versions: Glock 22 that has a magazine of 15 rounds, while the Glock 23 has a magazine of 13 rounds. Officers carry an additional magazine on their bodies. Officers must re-qualify every 12 months in order to carry the firearm and this requalification period is internationally accepted. Qld, NT, NSW Police all use Glocks, as do armed forces and police agencies around the world.
Gold-Stealing Detection Unit
Formerly known as the Gold Squad, the highly specialised GSDU is the second oldest squad or branch in the WA Police, after the Mounted Section. Based in Kalgoorlie, GSDU is funded by the WA mining industry but remains completely responsible to, and under the control of, the Commissioner of Police. It is responsible for investigating the theft of gold from mining operations as well as other organised crime that might occur in the WA mining industry.
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The names and other details of juvenile offenders, persons of interest and victims of crime are not released by police, in accordance with the Young Offenders Act. Police Media may notify the media of which court charged juveniles will appear and the date of this appearance, if this information is available.
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Major Crime Squad
Major Crime investigates all homicides and sudden unexplained deaths (including those in custody). Where these occur in metropolitan districts or Regional WA, Major Crime will always be notified but may or may not attend. In all homicide cases, Major Crime retains oversight of the investigation to ensure appropriate measures are taken and provides expert advice and assistance.
Multanova (speed camera)
The brand of kerbside slant radar-activated speed camera used by WA Police. Slant radars are specifically designed to operate from the kerbside at a “slant” angle to oncoming vehicles. WA speed cameras are tested before and after each session of use to an international standard, to ensure accuracy.
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National Automated Fingerprint Identification System. NAFIS is a national computer database of fingerprints. Prints today are taken from arrested suspects using the Livescan scanning system, rather than the “ink and pad” technology used for decades to collect “ten prints” (a print for each finger of an individual).
The National Crime Authority. A federally-funded organisation with links to State police jurisdictions, which concentrates on coordination of major, multi-jurisdictional investigations into organised crime, usually with international links.
A 50-million candlepower search light fitted to the Police helicopter, Polair 61. Used for providing light on the ground in missing person searches, rescues, riots, pursuits and so on. The Nightsun can also be fitted to the fixed wing aircraft operated by the Police Air Support Unit.
National Police Certificate. These are commonly sought by employers from individuals to show that they have no disclosable criminal history in any police jurisdiction in Australia. NPCs are now issued through Australia Post.
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Often referred to as “pepper spray”, OC spray (oleoresin capsicum) is a non-lethal option available to WA Police since 1999. OC spray is used to manage violent or dangerous people and its use has resulted in fewer injuries to police and offenders. In some circumstance OC spray may have no effect on some people or animals. WA Police have a duty of care to help reduce the discomfort caused by the use of OC spray.
Office of Crime Prevention. The OCP reports directly to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services but is administratively part of the WA Police. Its programs include Burglar Beware, Eyes on the Street and Neighbourhood Watch.
Outlaw Motor Cycle Gang. These are tight-knit groups of individuals who consider themselves the one per cent of the population that lives outside the law, hence the title Outlaw Motorcycle Gang. Currently in Western Australia there are several known OMCGs established with “chapters” or clubhouses established in various Perth suburbs and regional areas. OMCGs and members of OMCGs are acknowledged for their involvement in organised crime, including extortion and the manufacture and distribution of drugs (See Gang Crime Squad). The term ‘bikies’ refers to members of criminal bikie gangs and is not to be confused with the term ‘bikers’ which refers to law abiding citizens who ride motorcycles.
Organised Crime Division
That part of the Specialist Crime Portfolio that inquires into organised criminal activity in Western Australia. It examines drug-related activity and is responsible for the investigation, and dismantling of, clandestine drug laboratories.
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Police Assistance Centre. The part of the Midland Police Operations Centre which takes non-emergency calls from the public in the metropolitan area, via the 131 444 number or calls directed to police stations but then routed to the PAC.
Pilatus PC12. A high performance single engine turbo-prop aircraft built in Switzerland. WA Police has two PC12s, located at Jandakot and Karratha. The PC12 based in Karratha is fitted with “bomb” doors to facilitate emergency supply drops if required. Slightly slower than jets, PC12s can travel non-stop from Perth to the Kimberley and can land on short, unsealed strips.
Police & Community Youth Centre.
Police Metropolitan Radio Network.
The Police Operations Centre at the Midland Communications complex. POC is the nerve centre of the WA Police Communications network. The POC tasks officers and vehicles on jobs and receives 000 calls directed to police in Western Australia. Linked, and within the same building, is the Police Assistance Centre (PAC) which handles non-emergency calls to police, via the 131 444 number.
Person of interest. A POI is a person who has come into the scope of an investigation in some way, or may have information relevant to assisting an investigation. A person of interest is NOT necessarily a suspect.
WA Police helicopter – Call-sign POLAIR 61. The helicopter is a Kawasaki BK117. It provides frontline support in various areas, most notably high-speed pursuits, searches, rescues and surveillance. It also provides other various tactical capabilities.
After a person has been charged with an offence, it is against the law to publish any prior convictions or anything that might be prejudicial to a fair trial. This includes broadcasting or publishing the fact that a charged person has been previously charged but acquitted.
The Regional Investigations Unit investigates serious crimes in prisons, such as serious assaults, sexual assaults, riots or other crimes. (See Escapees)
Witnesses to incidents, relatives and others in the community are entitled to
Police will, in no circumstances, take the media onto private property without the owner’s permission.
A search warrant does not permit media access to a private property in company with police. Where the media cover police operations, such as traffic stops, officers should ensure filming and photography protects citizens’ right to privacy.
In such circumstances, officers will first ask if the citizen has any objection
to being videotaped or photographed by the media at close quarters.
Police Rail Unit. This unit provides policing services in relation to the metropolitan passenger rail system.
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Sworn police consist of ranks, ranging from Commissioner to Cadet:
- Commissioner of Police: Has the Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner Corruption Prevention and Investigation and the Directors Strategy and Performance, and Media and Public Affairs report to him.
- Deputy Commissioner: Is in charge of all police operations in the metropolitan area and throughout regional Western Australia with all operational portfolio heads reporting to him as well as all State Intelligence matters.
- Assistant Commissioners: Metropolitan, Regional WA, Traffic and Operations, Specialist Crime, Judicial Services, Professional Development, Corruption Prevention and Investigation.
- Commanders: State Intelligence, Metropolitan, Regional WA and Traffic Operations provide assistance to their relevant Assistant Commissioners or Deputy Commissioner for State Intelligence matters to ensure operational policing matters are undertaken with efficiency.
- Superintendent: One in charge of each metropolitan and regional district. One in charge of each specialist division or portfolio, where a civilian director is not in charge.
- Inspector: Frequently in charge of major units, projects, major stations, or assisting a Superintendent in districts as Assistant District Officers.
- Senior Sergeant: Typically the rank in charge of a unit or station.
- Sergeant: Their primary function is of a supervisory nature and providing assistance and guidance to junior officers.
- Senior Constable: Including remaining APLOs (Aboriginal Police Liaison Officers) their main role is to supervise and mentor junior officers.
- First Class Constable: Their main role is similar to that of a Senior Constable and of a mentoring nature.
- Constable: Generally frontline officers working closely with seasoned officers in a patrol and inquiry capacity.
- Cadet: Cadets are not fully sworn and therefore do not have conferred upon them the full powers of constable, under the Police Act.
- Each rank from Constable up can also contain officers with Detective status whose primary function is to investigate crimes of a serious nature.
All officers, regardless of rank, have the powers of a constable, under the Police Act.
Radio & Electronic Services Unit. Based at Maylands the RESU is responsible for maintaining all radio communications equipment as well as researching and evaluating new technology.
Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat. RHIBs are high-speed, trailerable vehicles operated by both the Water Police and TRG.
The Metropolitan Regional Investigations Unit. The RIU is responsible for arresting dangerous criminals who are known to have used weapons or have demonstrated a capacity for violence. The unit is also responsible for capturing prison escapees and investigations involving prisoners in custody.
Regional Operations Group. A unit in the Perth metropolitan area that provides support to districts in responding to anti-social behaviour and other public disorder events.
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State Emergency Service. The SES is a volunteer component of the Fire and Emergency Services Authority. In addition to responding to emergency situations and rescues, the SES also assists with police searches.
Sex Assault Squad
This squad investigates offences of sexual penetration or coercion, in relation to the Criminal Code. This includes offences where the offender is not known to police or the inquiry is of a complicated nature.
Shootings/use of force by police
Whenever a police firearm, including a Taser, is discharged (except in training), a “use of force” report must be completed and an internal investigation will take place. Police officers apply a “use of force heirarchy” when resorting to the force options at their disposal, with the principle being that an appropriate level of force be used according to a given situation. For example OC Spray or baton may be used to quell a fight, with a firearm only used where the life of the officer or members of the public is clearly at threat. Police officers are trained annually in force options. Where firearms are discharged, officers are trained to aim for the body mass (ie: torso) and not the legs or arms. (See: Glock)
State Intelligence Division. This area of the police gathers and analyses information that can assist police in the resolution of crime.
Scenes of Crime Officer. SOCOs are forensic specialists from both the Forensic Division and districts who gather physical evidence at a crime scene by a range of methods, including taking photographs, obtaining fingerprints and swabbing for DNA.
Special Crime Squad
Special Crime Squad investigates “cold case” homicides, generally where the offences have remained unsolved after two years and there is no specific ongoing investigative actions taking place.
State Security Investigation Group. This unit investigates matters that may affect the security of Western Australia or local/visiting dignitaries.
A sophisticated web-based system for use during emergencies that uses a “write-once” system to simultaneously deliver text and voice messages to landline phones, mobile phones (Voice and SMS) and email. State Alert can geographically identify and send emergency messages to a specified.
A device used as an effective method of stopping a fleeing vehicle. It is designed to rapidly deflate the tyres of a vehicle, yet allow the driver to maintain control until the vehicle is brought to a stop. It is a metal strip containing upward-facing hollow metal spikes approximately 50 mm in length, which can be rolled out on the surface of the road.
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Tasking and Data Information Service. TADIS is the in-car computer system by which officers in metropolitan vehicles can access police computer networks, including the national criminal database. Officers can run checks on persons of interest, view offender photographs. Officers in regional WA can access the same information by radioing the nearest station.
Taser electroshock technology is one of the most preferred non-lethal force options available to WA Police. The Taser uses a temporary high-voltage (50,000-volt) low-current electrical discharge to override the body's muscle-triggering mechanisms. WA Police has led Australia in the introduction of Tasers in operational policing.
Traffic Enforcement Group. The Perth based police unit which concentrates solely on road traffic enforcement in the Perth metropolitan area and on arterial roads leading into the city. Police districts still provide the largest component of traffic enforcement services in the metropolitan area.
Traffic and Operations Support. This is a portfolio in WA Police comprising traffic, forensic, specialist police units such as the Dog Squad, Water Police, TEG and Air Wing. TOPS is headed by an Assistant-Commissioner.
Tactical Response Group. The tactical assault unit based at Maylands Police Complex. TRG staff are highly trained in siege resolution, counter-terrorism and incorporate additional capabilities including negotiation specialists.
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Vehicle of Interest
Similar to a POI (Person of Interest).
Victims of crime
Victims of crime have rights enshrined in legislation (Victims of Crime Act 1994). Police will always consider the impact of media coverage on victims of crime. This does not mean imposing censorship on the media, but paying due regard to police’s obligations under the Act, which – in essence – require that victims be treated with courtesy and compassion, while their dignity is also respected.
Vehicle of interest. Similar to above. A motor vehicle that is somehow connected to a police inquiry but not necessarily the offending vehicle.
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This unit has facilities at North Fremantle, Dampier and will soon have a base in Mandurah. Vessels include the large ocean-going craft Delphinus and Falcon, as well as smaller rigid hull and RHIB vessels. In addition to its patrol capabilities, the Water Police has a dive team and a marine investigations team.
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