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  • Queensland police block RTI applications over personal file access
  • By Jorge Branco
  • 02/09/2016 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: Stevie ( 2 articles in 2016 )
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Police have rejected a series of right to information requests from Queenslanders wanting to find out how many times officers have been accessing their personal files.

In the past month, an advocate, a suspended cop and a former Northern Territory police officer have all had applications blocked, triggering a call for accountability from the state's peak law body and claims of systemic abuse from others.

Northern Territory cop turned hotel manager Steven Isles said decisions by the police service were making a mockery of Right to Information provisions designed to provide greater transparency.

Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts said the rejections were a "concerning" trend and called on police to release the information rather than hiding from it.

A Queensland Police Service spokeswoman said the service was committed to "transparent and accountable government" but refused to comment on individual matters.

Northern Territory cop turned hotel manager Steven Isles, whose application was knocked back last month, said the decisions were making a mockery of Right to Information provisions designed to provide greater transparency.

"We're being stonewalled," the 36-year-old said.

"...Simple requests are being shot down contrary to the application of the legislation and to me it's a really concerning thing."

Social justice advocate Renee Eaves filed a complaint against the QPS in June when a Right to Information request revealed cops had looked up her QPRIME (Queensland Police Records and Information Management Exchange) file more than 1400 times.

Former bikini model Renee Eaves (pictured) has revealed 'disgust' after discovering police officers had accessed her personal Q PRIME file 1475 times.

The database is a secure online tool capturing administrative and intelligence information, which police can only access during the course of their work, such as when checking a speeding motorist or something else related to a case.

But Ms Eaves had a similar request under RTI laws for an updated time period knocked back on August 15, the same day Mr Isles' first application was rejected.

Her rejected application was one of four, including one by "whistleblower" cop Sergeant Rick Flori, seen by Fairfax Media in the past month.

"By us making these applications, I guess one could say that we've opened this can of worms that has exposed the severe systemic abuse that has been allowed to to continue for a long period of time and nobody has stood up and said anything about it," she said, alleging the practice of inappropriately accessing QPRIME logs was widespread.

"These people are abusing their powers and they're not being held to account."

Ms Eaves' request was knocked back on the basis that it related to an ongoing investigation into privacy complaints she'd made, saying the "premature" release of information would prejudice the investigation.

"Police investigators must be able to explore theories, discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the investigation, gather and review evidence, and discuss the direction and progress of the investigation without the spectre that such information could be released prior to its finalisation," the response read.

But other rejections, such as those of Mr Isles and Mr Flori, stated the QPS' RTI decision had decided to "neither confirm nor deny" the existence of any documents.

"They've already provided me with my (previous) record and now they're saying they can neither confirm nor deny that record exists," said Mr Flori, who is awaiting trial, accused of leaking CCTV footage of a violent arrest to the media.

The Office of the Information Commissioner Queensland has begun an external review into two applications from Mr Isles, who has been battling to overturn a coronial inquest finding his police officer father died of suicide overturned for years and made police corruption allegations.

An OICQ spokesman said the organisation had also received similar applications for external reviews.

Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts said it was time for police to open up and release the information, or at the very least provide a better reason why they couldn't.

"It's about right to information, not freedom from information," he said.

"Whilst Renee Eaves and others have rights of appeal with respect to these administrative decisions, it's hard to fathom what the state secret is that prevents the release of this information.

"Mere embarrassment or administrative inconvenience should not be a basis for denying concerned members of the public (wanting to find out) how many times faceless police officers or administrative officers have looked at their file."

The QPS spokeswoman said: "The Right to Information and Privacy Unit within the QPS makes decisions relating to the release of information in accordance with the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) and Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) depending on the circumstances.

"Those decisions are able to be reviewed by the Information Commissioner," she said.

Source: https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/queensland-police-block-rti-applications-over-personal-file-access-20160901-gr6kjh.html


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