Police warn of knife crime violence if lefties get their way
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has called on the public to support his officers in carrying out strip searches and other tough policing measures, or suffer the consequences of rising youth crime.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Fuller expressed alarm about community opposition to strip searches, saying young people on the verge of criminality should have "a little bit of fear" of police.
Otherwise, he said, Sydney could go the way of London and other cities where crime had risen after police powers had been curtailed.
"My biggest issue at the moment is making sure the public understand why we need to be a force and understand it's important to have powers and use those powers because if you don't, there are consequences," he said.
"There will be a generation of kids that have no respect for authority and no respect for the community.
"The reality is we need to be a police force and part of that is searching people - which doesn't make everyone happy - but people need to know there are consequences especially those who are criminals or on the verge of being criminals.
"They need to have respect and a little bit of fear for law enforcement."
In 2014 UK Prime Minister Theresa May placed heavy restrictions on police stop-and-search powers after political pressure from left wing groups only to see them wound back this year after an 80 per cent rise in knife crime offences in five years.
Mr Fuller fears a growing push from some organisations to soften police powers.
"You look at London. They decrease their person searches by 20,000 because of a government policy position and knife crime went through the roof," he said. "When the legitimacy of policing communities is questioned it has a negative impact on public safety. It is under heavy scrutiny here at the moment and it's my job to protect those powers but also be mature enough to say 'OK juvenile strip searches is a point of contention at the moment, some people are worried about it', so we are going to do an immediate review of how they are conducted."'
Mr Fuller said he did not usually speak out on public policy but believed he had a duty to do so when public safety was at stake.
In the past month, since NSW Deputy Coroner Harriet Grahame called for restrictions on strip searches and sniffer dogs at music festivals there, has been a chorus of detractors of police tactics including from NSW Greens senator David Shoebridge, the Redfern Legal Centre, former Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery and other high-profile members of the legal fraternity.
The campaign compelled the Commissioner to send out a video to his 17,000 officers saying he was 100 per cent behind them particularly in relation to strip searches.
"I'm not suggesting lifting up your shirt or being fully stripped is a nice experience. I accept that and also we have to work within our framework," he scfaid. "But I cut a video for the troops around this (policy) telling them they have my support. You watch London, you watch Melbourne and you see a significant increase in knife crime. Knife crime isn't taking over Sydney, organised crime is not taking over Sydney."
NSW also has avoided major problems with African youth gangs which have committed murder and mayhem in Melbourne, attributed by some to softer Victorian police policies. When a number of organised robberies occurred in northwest Sydney, Mr Fuller said police moved swiftly.
"The first message we sent and I said is, 'these are gangs of young people from Sudan'. We called it for what it was and I think people want the Police Commissioner to stand up and tell them how it is," he said.
A strike force was formed and 20 young men arrested. Mr Fuller revealed police not only contacted the parents but took them to the courts and interacted with them.
"I wanted to stop them reoffending. We took the parents along for the journey and they were 100 per cent behind us. They spoke to their children and said if you reoffend you are going back to Sudan. There is little evidence that the gangs have re-emerged.''
CRUEL COP POLITICS 'A SHAME'
Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said a secret inquiry by the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission, which cleared him of allegations he promoted friends into senior positions, was politically motivated.
"I think it's a shame that an oversight body had to use royal commission powers to clear me of rumours," he said. "I was treated with great respect but really I think it was as much to do with police politics more than anything to do with oversight. NSW police politics is well-known for being pretty cruel, but it's over with and a good thing to put behind us as an organisation."
Earlier this month the LECC, which held months of private hearings into anonymous allegations that Mr Fuller was biased in appointing two superintendents, released a statement saying the claims were unfounded, unfair and purely destructive rumours.
Mr Fuller said: "I've got to be resilient, I can't play the victim. I can't say it was an enjoyable part of my 32 years of policing but it's now my job to try and bring cultural change to the Force, take the politics out of it so the next generation doesn't have this type of experience."
The Commissioner said he hoped to complete his full five-year term, which will expire in March 2022.
"I am loving the job. I've got four deputies I trust and we work together extremely well," he said.
"I think the Force is in great shape at the moment."
COMMISSIONER TARGETS DIRTY DOZEN EXPATS
Sydney organised crime figures living overseas are being targeted by the long arm of the law in NSW.
Police have drawn up a list of expat suspects who are allegedly involved in running drugs, laundering money and even attempting to order murders after leaving the country for what they think are safe havens.
"When we talk about outlaw motorcycle gangs in NSW, they have been decimated. Any time there appears to be a organised criminal group in ascendancy, we win," Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said. "And probably the only negative to that is that we're pushing some of these people offshore. There is probably a dozen people overseas I would love to arrest."
Intelligence reports have identified 18 people who have left Australia but police believe are still involved in criminal activity in NSW.
"It means unfortunately I can't police NSW anymore from just inside the state so I've got to chase them. I can't just leave it to Home Affairs and the Australian Federal Police to do that work. We have wonderful working relationships with them and we are now working with them to chase these people offshore,'' he said.
Former Comanchero bikies Mark Buddle and Hakan Arif are among those police want to interview over a raft of crimes from murder to massive drug importation, as well as Sydney criminal Bilal Haouchar, who is believed to be in Lebanon and wanted by NSW Police. Sydney boxer Antonio Bagnato is currently in a Thai jail for the murder of a former Sydney bikie Wayne Schneider but is also wanted for murder in NSW.
"There's been evidence that some of our best organised criminals can still run their syndicates from jails so it's pretty plausible they can do it from overseas and we will chase them in partnership with Australian Federal Police," Mr Fuller said.
The NSW State Crime command has specialised squads that have been highly successful in investigating local drug and firearm dealing as well as bikies and other organised crime but often are arresting pawns used by major crime cartels.
"You know, if we're truly going to be a global force, then I do have to take a step outside our state.
"We are doing a great job within our borders but we have to go outside of that if we accept that organised crime makes an impact on public safety no matter where it is.''
Mr Fuller said in many cases police were only getting what he describes as "house sitters".
"If we continue to fill up our jails with those house-sitting the drugs then that's not a victory for me because it's just costing taxpayers an enormous amount of money to have them in jail and the drugs are still coming in."