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Aldous, Jules --- "Legal studies exercise based on 'Policing lndigenous Australians'" [2004] AltLawJl 54; (2004) 29(4) Alternative Law Journal 193


JULES ALDOUS has created a student exercise based on the preceding article Policing Indigenous A Australians.

Working in groups, answer the following questions.

1. In the case .of DDP v Carr the young Indigenous Australian man was arrested for offensive language.

How would you define the term 'offensive language'? Would your definition of 'offensive language' alter according to:

-the age of the offender

- the circumstances in which the language is used

-the audience, or who heard the language?

• Suggest reasons why offensive language should be considered an offence.

• What is the difference between an arrest and a summons?

• Under what circumstances would you expect a police

• 'Arrest. for a great majority of people is an additional penalty'. What are the consequences for an offender of being arrested?

2. Police have discretion not to arrest a suspect in some circumstances.

• What does the term 'police discretion' mean?

• What factors do you think that police should take into account in deciding if a person should be charged with an offence such as offensive language?

• What problems may be associated with the way in which police exercise the discretion to charge an offender?

• What actions can police take as an alternative to arrest? Suggest circumstances in which each of these alternatives could be used.

• Should police have the discretion to charge an offender? Explain.

3. The article suggests that the discretion to charge offenders with offensive language has a discriminatory impact.

• What does the term 'police culture' mean?

• What does the term 'over-policing' mean?

• Using dot points, list the different ways in which police 'culture' and 'over-policing' may impact on minority groups in the community.'

4. '[Arrest] is a means of setting the criminal process in train which should be reserved for situations where it is dearly necessary, and should not be employed where the issue of a summons will suffice'. Lake v Dobson (NSWCA, 19 December 1980,.Petty Session Review 2221).

• What are the 'train of events' set in place by an arrest?

• To what extent can arrest for an offence, such as offensive language have an on-going discriminatory impact on young indigenous Australian?

JULES ALDOUS teaches legal studies at Shelford Anglican School in Melbourne and has written several legal studies text books for secondary school students.


If you are interested in further exploring the issues raised by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the experience of Indigenous people in dealing with the justice system consider using the following Internet activity.

< kmyersltopics.htm> ... This site was compiled by Kirrily Myers, who has a Graduate Diploma in Education. The focus is on the experience of Indigenous Australians within the criminal justice system. This study includes the following issues:

• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders' disadvantaged place in society

• The policing of social divisions: The possibility of discrimination

• Visibility

• Racism and cultural differences

• Overview of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

Reflective questions have been included for each topic.

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