Victoria Police has suspended two more police officers over the leak of unauthorised photos of former AFL player and coach Dean Laidley in custody inside a police station.
- Four Victorian police officers have now been suspended over the privacy breach
- The anti-corruption watchdog says it will oversee the police investigation
- The Chief Commissioner says the leak was an act of “immaturity and gross stupidity”
It follows the suspension of two other officers earlier this week over an “appalling” privacy breach after unauthorised images were shared of the former North Melbourne player and coach in custody inside St Kilda police station.
The photos were taken when Laidley was in police custody last weekend on allegations of stalking, as well as other charges.
The 53-year-old from Moonee Ponds was arrested on Saturday night after an incident outside a St Kilda home about 9:00pm.
In a statement, police said Professional Standards Command had “suspended two further Victoria Police employees in relation to photos circulating on social media of a person who was in custody at a police station in Victoria”.
The two male senior constables are from the southern metropolitan region and are expected to be charged with a breach under section 227 of the Victoria Police Act, which is unauthorised disclosure of information.
There have now been four police officers suspended as part of the investigation.
Police said as the investigation was ongoing, there would be no further comment.
Independent oversight of police probe
Meanwhile, Victoria’s corruption watchdog said it would oversee the Victoria Police investigation into the “serious privacy breach”.
Victoria’s independent police oversight agency, IBAC, said the scope of Victoria Police’s investigation would address issues the watchdog considered necessary to restore public confidence and prevent future breaches.
The police investigation will examine the number of officers involved in taking the initial photographs and the conduct of any other officers who were present and aware of the behaviour.
It will also probe how other officers received the photographs and responded to them, including whether they further distributed the images.
IBAC Commissioner Robert Redlich said the community was right to expect that police always conducted themselves in accordance with the law.
“Importantly, Victoria Police has confirmed they are looking at any underlying cultural issues, and how they can build on their work with the LGBTIQ community and ensure their officers have proper regard to human rights.
“Addressing any such cultural issues and improving police training will be fundamental to ensuring this type of behaviour is simply not tolerated and doesn’t happen again.”
Top cop’s ‘sense of shame’
Earlier on Friday, Victoria’s Chief Police Commissioner, Graham Ashton, said he felt ashamed of the force when he learnt the photo of Mr Laidley had been leaked in an act of “immaturity and gross stupidity”.
“I was firstly very angry when I first heard about it, because [it was] on a day when we should have been paying our respects to a fallen police hero, Josh Prestney,” the Chief Commissioner said referring to the funeral of one of four police officers killed in a truck crash on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway last month.
Mr Ashton said while Constable Prestney’s parents did not raise the incident with him at the funeral on Monday, “there was a sense of shame that I felt that someone in the force had done that on a day that we should have been honouring a police hero”.
He said it was clear “a lot of people” in the force had received the messages, and detectives were in the process of determining how widely it was shared.