Records obtained by the Redfern Legal Centre show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were significantly overrepresented in police use of force incidents from 2018-20 to 2021-22.
High-profile incidents in recent years have put increased scrutiny on police use of force against Indigenous Australians. In May, a NSW police officer was found guilty of assaulting a 16-year-old Indigenous boy in inner Sydney in 2020 when he arrested him and threw him to the ground using an unofficial “leg sweep” manoeuvre.
Samantha Lee, a Redfern Legal Centre senior lawyer described the disproportionate use of force as “appalling” and said the data should provoke urgent change.
“The use of force is a systemic problem,” Lee said. “It requires a systemic solution.”
“The NSW police commissioner must address the use of force against First Nations people at all levels of the NSW police force, from recruitment to corporate reporting.”
Lee said such data should be collected at a national level and measured against Closing the Gap targets.
“The disproportionate impact of policing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people goes to the heart of the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the criminal justice system,” she said.