Victoria Police have lost $4M in funding from the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) after an investigation found that more than 250,000 preliminary breath tests (PBT) were falsified over a five year period.
Assistant Commissioner Russell Barrett provided a statement this morning, admitting that they were “incredibly disappointed” with the findings.
The investigation found that police officers placed their finger over the straw entry hole on the breathalyser, or even blew into the straw themselves, according to a statement released by Victoria Police.
“The investigation, which analysed over five years of data, 1,500 preliminary breath test devices and more than 17.7 million tests, disappointingly found 258,463 PBTs or 1.5 percent of all tests had been falsified.
“This conduct will not be tolerated. Any member found engaging in this practice from today has been put on notice … they will be investigated,” Barrett said.
According to the statement, police believe that the activity was largely carried out by general duties and highway patrol members, with a large percentage of the false tests taken in rural areas.
The motivation behind this could be due to meeting quotas and highlighting productivity.
“The question we all asked was why?” said Barrett.
“There could be a number of reasons but the main rationale I believe is to hide or highlight productivity. Whatever reason our workforce may come up with, it isn’t acceptable.
“The investigation will examine how this behaviour was allowed to occur and what we can do to enhance and improve our operational practice into the future.”
One Facebook user commented, “What on earth would make police officers think this was okay on any level. Police should not be set targets, they should be doing their job with utmost honesty. Disappointing!”
“There is no evidence to suggest fraud or any criminality has occurred. Similarly, there is nothing to suggest that any of this activity has impacted on any prosecutions,” Barrett added.
“We are considering the feasibility of regular audits.
“We let ourselves down, we’ve let the community down. It stops now,” he said.
Discussions with the Independent Board-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) and Victoria Police are currently underway.
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“The conflicts between two different values systems, and the conflicts between the two political systems are issues that cannot be ignored.”