The Northern Territory police should be charged with murder — of the English language.

Here is an extract from just one of the case notes of complaints against NT police documented in the 2008-2009 annual report to the local Parliament of the NT Ombudsman, Carolyn Richards.

Comments from a police officer in the watchhouse to a prisoner being processed include: “Shut your face”, “dumb fuck”, “fucking loser”, “dickhead over there”, “…no brain”, and “fucking retard.”

The Ombudsman’s case note, headed “No brains” detailed the treatment meted out by NT Police at an unnamed station to a complainant who was taken into custody:

“… for breaking and entering. This person had fallen asleep outside the premises, due to being highly intoxicated, and was arrested at the scene.”

Even before he made it to the cells he was getting the full benefit of the cop’s limited vocabulary:

“The complainant could be heard mumbling something whilst he was seated on the bench, although it was not discernable as to what was said. One of the attending officers responded with “shut your face”. Further comments made to or about the complainant within the next 30 minutes included “dumb fuck”, “fucking loser”, “dickhead over there”, “… no brain”, “he’s from CSI, one of our smart criminals who breaks and enters and then collapses outside the scene” and “fucking retard”. There were several officers present during the comments, not one of them suggesting they were wrong or inappropriate.”

Further examination of the audio and footage from the watchhouse cameras revealed this tasty little incident:

“… the duty officer was eating a piece of toast. He was pointing to the toast and then himself and later pointed to another breakfast behind the counter. In the officer’s statement he claimed he was indicating to the complainant that his breakfast was behind the counter. However on viewing the video it appeared the duty officer ate the complainant’s toast that was sitting with the complainant’s weetbix. He then went to a box sitting on the bin containing breakfast rubbish and took out a white bag with toast and a carton of milk. The duty officer then poured the milk on the weetbix and brought this, along with the toast in the white bag, to the complainant. It was concerning that the duty officer provided the complainant with toast and milk which appeared to have been taken from rubbish sitting on the bin.”

And thanks to the watchhouse cameras we now know that it only got worse for the complainant — and, in some small measure, for one of the cops in question:

“In addition to the inappropriate comments identified above the duty officer was heard and observed making the following statements to or about the complainant:

  • “stupid fucking idiot”
  • “make things quite clear, … if you wanna fuckin’ play up I’ll make things hard for you”
  • “God, he fucking stinks”
  • “didn’t bang head for too long coz it hurt” one officer apparently mocking the complainant to another officer
  • Two officers were joking about the complainant hitting his head against the cell door because he wasn’t given a blanket. One officer stating that the complainant had said he would jump in the air and land on his head killing himself. The officer then stating “go ahead, do it”. The other officer stating “make sure you do it in front of the cameras”.
  • “piece of sh-t that he is”
  • After the officer established that the complainant was dialling his wife, against  whom he had a domestic violence order, the officer said “get back in your fucking cell you spastic” “you’ve got a domestic violence order that says you are not allowed to contact her, you fucking wanker. You’re not allowed to approach her, you’re not allowed to contact her directly or indirectly you fucking wanker”
  • “how about you shut the fuck up”
  • “spastic cunt” whispered by officer”

For those if us who’ve never seen it — and for those NT cops who have forgotten them, here is the NT Police Statement of Ethics.


Each member of the police force is to act in a manner which:

  • upholds the rule of law;
  • preserves the individual’s rights and freedoms;
  • places integrity above all;
  • seeks to improve quality of life throughout the community through involvement with the community;
  • strives to attain maximum citizen confidence and satisfaction;
  • strives at all times for professional excellence;
  • strives to maximise the effectiveness of available human and other resources; and
  • tempers authority with common sense, discretion and sensitivity.

And I suppose we can be thankful for small mercies — at least the cops didn’t call the complainant a “black spastic cunt”, “piece of black shit that he is”, “stupid black fucking idiot”, “dumb black fuck”, “fucking black loser”, “black duckhead over there” or “fucking black retard”.