No wonder Victorian Deputy Police Commissioner Simon Overland went over the top about his crime-busting credentials at a media conference yesterday called by his boss Christine Nixon to discuss the arrest in Greece of fugitive Tony Mokbel.

Overland is in the running to take over as the next NSW Police Commissioner – replacing Ken Moroney who steps down this year.

Apparently it’s down to the last three and Overland is still in the race. Being savvy with the media will help in the New South Wales job as former commissioner Peter Ryan, Moroney’s predecessor, found out when he took up the gig in the mid 1990s. Ryan almost became a household name in the First State, and he and his wife were regularly photographed in the social pages of the weekend tabloids.

And, of course, if you are top cop in NSW you are expected to talk tough and boast about your results. Overland was obviously getting some practice in yesterday with this extraordinary claim about the performance of the Purana Taskforce that he heads, and which has been cracking down on Melbourne’s underworld:

Fourteen people arrested overnight now adds to the following operational results where we’ve, through Purana, arrested and charged 157 offenders with 485 separate offences. Fourteen offenders have been charged with 25 counts of murder, 10 offenders have been charged with incitement for attempted murder, we’ve laid about 292 serious drug charges and seized or restrained almost $20-million worth of assets. That is before we add the arrests and the other assets that we’ve seized overnight.

So that’s a substantial record of success that Purana’s been able to achieve over the past four years.

Hang on a minute. Just because charges are laid against an individual doesn’t make them guilty of the offence. And judging your success on the number of people charged and the number of offences laid misleads the public, because what really matters is the number of convictions that result after matters have been dealt with by the courts.

There’s a long way to go with many of the cases arising out of the Purana investigation. And who knows, at this stage, how many convictions there will be and for what crimes.

When the appeals are over, the jail terms are being served, the accused are acquitted, and Purana disbands, and when Overland is ensconced as a law enforcement big wheel somewhere, that’s when one will be able to adjudge him and his team of crime-busters, a success, or not.

Perhaps Overland should be given the benefit of the doubt about his over-the-top comments yesterday. Maybe he was just making sure that those picking the next top cop in NSW are under no illusions about his media skills and his bravado.

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.