Victoria Police are not alone …

… this is how the regulatory state operates.

First – let Greg Craven describe how the Pell case went down:

The inescapable conclusion is that Pell was prosecuted on an unwinnable charge for two reasons: first, that there were those within the justice system, particularly the police, who were determined to destroy him; second, that there was a large segment of the media, fuelled by the police and “victims’ lawyers”, that so clamoured for Pell’s conviction that the weaknesses of the case against him were drowned out by howls of accusation.

But with Pell, the police pursued him relentlessly, improperly and publicly. Repeatedly, the ­Office of Public Prosecutions ­refused to put the police charges. Finally, the police themselves forced its hand.

The same police force that stalked Pell, giving regular press conferences along the way referring to his “victims”, and briefing selected journalists, is now the subject of a royal commission, ­effectively into their use of a defence lawyer as an informant.

This is less a culture than a drain.

Now just to be clear on what happened – here is their ABC:

Detectives have been accused of “single-mindedly” pursuing charges against Cardinal George Pell as a Melbourne court heard Victoria Police set up a taskforce to investigate Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric before receiving a complaint against him.

Details about the police probe, Operation Tethering, were revealed in court for the first time on Wednesday as one of the detectives who flew to Rome to question the Cardinal gave evidence.

Detective Superintendent Paul Sheridan told the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court that the investigation into Cardinal Pell began in March 2013 to ascertain whether he had committed crimes which had gone unreported.

Victoria Police opened an investigation into an Australian citizen to determine whether “he had committed crimes which had gone unreported One would have thought that there is good reason why we might have social conventions against such behaviour – even laws against the fabrication of evidence,  but it turns out that proponents of the regulatory state view this sort of thing as a feature and not a bug.

Harvard economist Andrei Shleifer (with various co-authors) has written a lot on regulation and the regulatory state (he has written a lot about a lot of other stuff too). In a 2001 paper (with Ed Glaeser and Simon Johnson) he sets out a model of enforcement that trades-off incentives between judge-enforced regulation and bureaucracy-enforced regulation.

In our view, the crucial distinction between judges and regulators is that the latter can be more easily provided with incentives to punish violations of particular statutes. Judges, in contrast, are by design more independent and therefore harder to motivate. The stronger incentives of the regulators have the benefit of bringing about more aggressive enforcement than can be achieved through courts.

Yet these incentives also have the potential cost of excessively aggressive enforcement when regulators motivated to find violations penalize innocent suspects. There is thus a trade-off between enforcement by judges facing relatively weak but unbiased incentives and enforcement by regulators facing stronger but possibly biased incentives.

That is the problem – regulators (and the police are particular regulators) are “motivated to find violations”. They go out and look for trouble even when there might be none. Thinks about the police fining 17 year old learner drivers and the like. They then penalise “innocent suspects”.

Regulatory agencies don’t wait for trouble to manifest itself – they go looking for trouble. Given how bureaucracies are funded it is unsurprising then that they find trouble.

So anyone who is appalled by Pell’s treatment at the hands of the police should know that every other regulatory agency in Australia behaves in the same way.

That, of course, does not absolve the rest of the Victorian criminal justice for its catastrophic failure in the Pell case.

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14 Responses to Victoria Police are not alone …

  1. H B Bear

    VicPol’s least successful fishing expedition.

  2. H B Bear

    The worst example of regulator as judge and jury is the ATO. Which,coincidentally, has a terrible record in front of a real judge.

  3. notafan

    You are correct Since.

    And the moment we have police doing licence plate checks to see if innocent suspects have dared to remove themselves from the boundaries of their postcode.

  4. RobK

    Thanks Sinc,
    Interesting take on bureaucracy, with which I concur. I have witnessed the same first hand with the eco-stazi.
    To hell with the triple bottom line they say and enter a process that is negative on all scores, making the process the punishment.

  5. Rob MW

    “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime” – Lavrentiy Beria

    The Criminalization of Almost Everything – CATO Institute (Jan/Feb 2010)

    HARVEY SILVERGLATE: An average, busy professional gets up in the morning, gets the kids to school, goes to work, uses the telephone or e‑mail, has meetings, works on a prospectus or bank loan, goes home, puts the kids to bed, has dinner, reads the newspaper, goes to sleep, and has no idea that, in the course of that day, he or she has very likely committed three felonies. Three felonies that some ambitious, creative prosecutor can pick out from that day’s activities and put into an indictment.

    In his foreword to my book, Alan Dershowitz discusses his time litigating cases in the old Soviet Union. He was always taken by the fact that they could prosecute anybody they wanted because some of the statutes were so vague. Dershowitz points out that this was a technique developed by Beria, the infamous sidekick of Stalin, who said, “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.” That really is something that has survived the Soviet Union and has arrived in the good old USA. “Show me the man,” says any federal prosecutor, “and I can show you the crime.” This is not an exaggeration.

  6. Up The Workers!

    One could be forgiven for asking: “What view does the Victorian “Office of Police Integrity” take of this disgraceful Miscarriage of Justice by the Labor(sic) Police Farce and the Victorian Courts?”

    But then again, when the last Assistant Commissioner in charge of the Victorian “Office of Police Integrity” was frisked to find just how much “integrity” he had in his personal possession, he was sacked when it was discovered that he was bereft of any at all.

    And then there were the 258,000 fraudulently Police-falsified breath-tests on the current Maladministration’s watch, in a forlorn attempt to make the Labor Party’s ‘law and disorder policy’ look good. Apparently the Sherlocks of Farce Command cannot find a single suspect for those 258,000 separate instances of insider-job fraud.

    Murphy’s Law (Lionel’s or Bernie’s – take your pick). If it can be stuffed up, Labor(sic) will find a way of doing precisely that.

  7. nb

    Rob MW, #3399953, posted on April 8, 2020 at 12:04 pm:
    “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime” – Lavrentiy Beria
    ‘they could prosecute anybody’
    Indeed. And the ABC is its own little slice of totalitarianism. A disgrace.

  8. min

    Seems everyone has forgotten the Gillard, Wilson and Blewitt allegations and what the DPP and police did about that as well as rape allegations against a prominent politician. In that the complainant was dismissed as it was a he said she said too hard to prove even though she offered witnesses whereas 20 witnesses for Pell were ignored.

  9. Davo the spy

    Yep, you don’t have to look far to see many examples: Tim Soup, and of course Malcolm the miserable ghost’s mate, the scrupulous Gillian Triggs, at the Human Rights Commission come easily to mind

    Add the media and the ‘i take offence at that’ brigade and its no wonder we have problems

    And what happens….nothing

  10. rickw

    within the justice system, particularly the police, who were determined to destroy him

    Who’s orders were they following?

  11. Simple Simon

    Rob MW, #3399953

    The attitude pre-dates Beria, though he was a talented exemplar thereof.

    If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.
    —Cardinal Richelieu

  12. Squirrel

    What with the virus causing a few worries for government budgets, it might be easier if they just got on with it and took control of church assets, rather than mucking around with clod-hopping “legal” procedures.

    If in doubt about how to do it, just dust off the Henry VIII play-book.

  13. Hodor

    When I worked at the ATO, the zealots there actively went after people seeking out flimsy transgressions, which, of course had no clout when in front of a judge.
    HB, you are 100% correct.

  14. Castle Wolfenstein

    Hodor, that does not surprise me but even if they had no clout before a judge they would have hurt the individual. Another technique is to investigate someone, wait for them to trip up and get them on providing false info to a regulator (there’s an offence in the Criminal Code). I believe ASIC may be trying that one on someone.

    And a word of warning (but try not to laugh): it’s not unknown for regulators to keep files on former employees who write articles criticising them.

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