‘Inhumane’ police dislocated WA woman’s hip during arrest

‘Inhumane’ police dislocated WA woman’s hip during arrest

THE treatment of a woman whose hip was dislocated during a police arrest then dragged backwards on stairs as she screamed in pain was “oppressive, unjust and contrary to law”, Western Australia’s corruption watchdog has found.

The arrest and five-hour detention of a woman known as Ms Duncan at Fremantle Police Station in January 2017 was described by the Corruption and Crime Commission as a “cascading failure of duty” in its report tabled on Thursday.

“There were so many failures by many officers to afford Ms Duncan timely medical attention, that it is pointless for the commission to form an opinion of misconduct in respect of any one individual,” the CCC said.

“A citizen interacting with police is entitled to humane treatment. Ms Duncan’s experience while in police custody breached a duty of care owed to her.”

Ms Duncan’s daughter was driving them home from a New Year’s Eve event when she failed a preliminary breath test, but Ms Duncan was refused a test to determine whether she could drive herself home.

The CCC said what happened next was controversial, but Ms Duncan was charged with failing to provide personal details and assaulting the officer. She was acquitted after a trial.

Ms Duncan’s treatment at the station was “extraordinary” in part because it came two weeks after a coroner delivered findings into the 2014 death in custody of Ms Dhu.

 

The coroner found officers behaved inhumanely and the CCC said the publicity should have heightened awareness.

Instead, Ms Duncan was taken to the offender management area, which is unsuitable for disabled people.

Her pain was exacerbated by stairs as officers partly dragged Ms Duncan backwards, with her legs trailing.

WA Police Union issued a statement in response to the report, confirming it was assisting the members involved in the incident.

“The Fremantle Offender Management Area is not a ‘lock-up’ or ‘watch house’ as this means that the WA Police Force can use the facility as a detention area without providing the resources and infrastructure required,” President Harry Arnott added.

“This area has been used for a number of years to detain arrested persons and the reality is that it is used on a daily basis as a lock-up facility despite being deemed an Offender Management Area.

“As an example, if this detention area was operated as a lock-up, a nurse would have been required to be present on the night in question, and Ms Duncan would have been provided medical attention as soon as she arrived at the facility.

“We inspected this facility again on Friday and have reported it to Worksafe. While this facility continues to be used by the WA Police Force, the community and our members are at significant risk of harm or injury.”

 

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