23 September 2015

Did Vic Police rewrite the rules for Danny Nikolic?

Under the banner "Natural Justice Denied?", Costa Rolfe has given Danny Nikolic free rein in a "news" story on punters.com.au. Rolfe quotes him thus:
“The Police Commissioner has given me no reason for the exclusion order except that it's in the public interest. If he has any proof that I am of poor character, why doesn't he produce it?” Nikolic said.
“This exclusion order is a clear attempt to hinder any future license application under racing jurisdictions. 
“I believe it's a clear abuse of his discretionary powers and a tactic to further negatively affect public perception of me by linking me with organised crime figures without justification or rationale.”
Rolfe then paraphrased Nikolic, asking "how Racing Victoria and Victoria Police could essentially rewrite the rules in order to extend his ban beyond its original term."

Huge claims.

Claims Rolfe didn't challenge, or declare any attempt to verify, or seek answers or comment from authorities. So for the benefit of his readers, we asked Victoria Police the following questions:
  1. Has Vic Police made any public statement or published any release on the banning of Danny Nikolic from racetracks and casinos? Is it required to do so? 
  2. How long is the ban in place? Is it indefinite? 
  3. Is there a register of "undesirable" persons with regards to casinos and racetracks? Is this published? 
  4. Is Vic Police required to give reasons, either to the public or the person concerned, for their banning? 
  5. If so, what are the reasons for Nikolic's banning?
Victoria Police took less than 30 minutes to reply to our queries (my emphasis):
We are unable to comment on whether a particular person is or has been subject to an exclusion notice, however please find some general information on the process below:
The Racing Act 1958 and Casino Control Act 1991 allow the Chief Commissioner of Police to issue exclusion orders for race courses and the casino complex.
Any member of Victoria Police can commence the process for a casino/racing exclusion order. 
The criteria for exclusion from a casino, casino complex or specified racecourse is where it is considered necessary in the public interest, and where the person to be excluded satisfies one or more of the following:

  • Has a criminal history, or there is other evidence or intelligence in relation to criminality that suggests the person warrants exclusion; 
  • Is suspected of using the facilities of the casino for an unlawful purpose such as, but not limited to, cheating, money laundering, criminal association, or supply or use of prohibited drugs; 
  • Has a gambling problem sufficient to warrant exclusion; 
  • Has been suspected or convicted of an offence that would significantly impact on the integrity of gaming operations; 
  • Is the subject of a court order or other judicial process not to enter or attend licensed premises or a casino; 
  • Is an excluded person in another state or territory. 
The Chief Commissioner of Police can exclude a person from the Casino and/or Racecourse in line with above criteria under his own authority and without any court direction. Once an exclusion order has been issued by the Chief Commissioner it remains in place indefinitely. 
Lists of excluded persons’ names are provided to the casino, Racing Victoria, Greyhound Victoria, Harness Victoria and enforced by employees and security of those organisations in first instance. Police can be called to respond to any breaches, including removing persons from venues and prosecuting for the summary offence of Breach Exclusion Order.  
Exclusion orders assist police and the community by reducing money laundering through casino/racing attendance and deterring the corrupting influence of organised crime figures in casino/racing processes. It also deters consorting and organised crime associations at casino/racing venues. The exclusion order regime ensures integrity of casino and racing activities are maintained, and public perception of confidence in these industries is strengthened. 
Victoria Police has direct and regular contact with interstate agencies and is currently in discussions for a national approach to the issue which would see banned persons excluded from casinos across Australia.
So now you know. Nikolic has every right to pursue his claims through every legal channel available to him. And if he can secure a media cheer squad to act as his unfiltered mouthpiece, good luck to him.

But if journalists want to be taken seriously they should show their independence by verifying claims,  seeking comment and reporting all sides of the story, and upholding the journalists code of ethics.

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