Area of Law – Evidence

An Article about Police lying in their statements or Police harassing witnesses

Police lying in their statements or Police harassing witnesses – Police complaints
Generally Police are honest and do their job professionally. Like any profession, there are some of them who do not have the same standards.

On a practical note, it is always wise to talk to us before you make a complaint against the Police. Often these complaints will inflame the situation, and end up with you being charged with more charges. It is often good to gather the evidence (medical reports, photos, witness statements) and then wait before taking any action.

Which ever way you proceed get some legal advice first.

Unfortunately, the Police generally investigate themselves, which pose some pretty obvious problems.

Below are some interesting cases on issues relating to the Police lying in statements and harassing witnesses.

The accused was charged with assaulting police officers. His defence was that he had been attempting to evade the assault of police officers upon him. The Full Court held that the trial Judge erred in rejecting evidence from a witness, that he had been assaulted by the same police officers in a similar manner on another occasion. The other assault was one occurring some three or four months before, using a not dissimilar technique, in analogous circumstances. Upon that ground the Full Court held that the evidence was both relevant and admissible.”

R v Polley 1997 SASR 227

“The Court of appeal held that where a police officer was alleged to have fabricated an admission against the accused, he could properly be cross-examined to make the jury aware of the fact that evidence of an admission in a previous case was demonstrably disbelieved.

The Court also had to consider how far it was proper to cross to cross-examine a police witness about previous improprieties, to the effect that there was a systematic perversion of justice, that some officers involved in the case had been the subject of criminal or disciplinary processes in relation to the falsification of evidence, that acquittals had occurred in cases where the witnesses had given evidence. The Court said cross-examination on the first matter was not permissible. It was too remote. It accepted that evidence was admissible with respect to proceedings where an adverse finding had resulted. If there was no reasonable explanation for an acquittal, other than a determination that the witness must have been lying, the matter could be pursued.

The basis for this being admissible and very useful is that the Police should not be believed because because of a prior pattern of behaviour which disclosed beaches of statutory powers on other occasions.”

R v Edwards


Date: 01/09/2009