Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Witnessing an assault

Not an investing post at all. Just using the power of a blog with a lot of readers to ensure something gets done and to make a record of what I have seen.

I was riding my (electric) bike home from the office at 1am. (Yes I worked late.)

I passed a local pub where three security guys were harassing/holding - then punching a young male. I rode so that I was on the other side of the road from them and shouted for them to leave him alone. One of them kicked him in the head while he was lying on the ground.

Another of the three started shouting at me telling me to go away - not directly threatening me - but shouting at me to "get lost" at the top of his voice. My presence I felt stopped them from continuing to kick the victim in the head. He did not like the presence of a witness.

I walked away with the victim - to the local police station - where I reported the assault. The police took my name and phone number but did not feel they needed to take a statement.

At a guess I would think taking a statement from a witness to a crime as close to the time of the crime is good policing practice. However my local police station did not feel that was necessary. (This post is being made as a public statement to rectify that oversight.)

If people with more expertise than me can fill me in on appropriate policing practice I would appreciate it.

Alas I think not much will be done until the said security guards kick someone in the head and he dies.


PS. I have no idea what victim was doing before he was held and punched. I did not see that. The victim was an Irish male (strong accent) who said it was his 21st birthday. He was drunk.


Nick said...

Sorry to hear that John - that sounds nasty to witness, let alone suffer. I hope the Irish lad was OK.

If the Aussie cops are anything like the Brits - absolutely nothing will happen.

The Irish Guy won't press charges and the state will have no interest in prosecuting security staff on behalf of a now absent drunk bloke.

You can't force the issue since you have had no damage done by the cretins.

Sydneysider said...

I find the events you described disturbing for many reasons.

I am not aware of police procedures but intuitively it makes sense that they should take a formal statement from you as the key witness to the alleged crime.

Have you considered revisiting the police station (and speaking to a more senior police officer) or calling Crimestoppers 1800 333 000 or the police assistance line 131 444 to make an official statement?

Anonymous said...

Police have a monopoly.

It is difficult for a member or members of the public to defeat an organ of the State such that action is taken; and moreover, it is time consuming and costly, such as to even deter such efforts for issues below a certain level of seriously.

If the police fail in a particularly visible and profound manner, they feel obliged to take action.

Aside from these two mechanims, given the monopoly, I see no meaningful incentive for the police to do a good job and I see no mechanism to remove *bad* police.

I expect (and I believe I observe) the police to acquire a distinct and peverse group identity, such that their goals conflict with the goals of those who, through the non-voluntary intermediation of the State and taxation, pay.

Anonymous said...

Good on ya John.

It's unfortunate but the reality is, at almost every level, law enforcers - be it local police, national police, financial regulators, environmental regulators, whomever - do little until the pattern of abuse is repeated and repeatedly made aware to them, or until someone powerful complains publicly. That's my experience in the US and Oz at least.

Anonymous said...

Go to ICAC and tell them your story.

Anonymous said...

Did you get a chance to take a video of any of the beating?

Unknown said...

What is the name of the pub and where is it located? If I am ever in your town I want to be sure not to go there.

Anonymous said...

Its a common occurrence.

Yes the cops should get a statement asap. Longer you leave that kind of thing the more its accuracy can be questioned.

The only drama (and bit that is missing) is 'what did the victim want to do about it?'

I've had plenty of the above scenarios and if the victim doesn't want to do anything about it there it is a lot harder for Police to do much about it. I've ran one where the victim didn't want to know about it, wouldn't provide a statement, didn't care etc. I had to seize cctv footage, subpoena hospital records, doctors notes and all sorts. In the end you still end up with a charge for affray - assault is too difficult without a victim. Lots of work for little result and I'd rather help people who want to be help than the lemmings that get snotted and don't care about it. (Only bonus was that the security industry regulator got involved and took the bouncers licence off him)

So reading between the lines (drunk Irishman on his 21st) I'm guessing he didn't want to do anything about it and wouldn't be interested in extending his holiday to attend court to give evidence etc... Which means we have end up with a witness who has more pump and more interest in doing the right thing than the victim...

So yeah its wrong (honestly I rarely drink in pubs these days because its so bad) but hard to combat too. Best thing the spectator could have done is whip out his mobile phone, take a pic or a video, and post it on the offending pubs Facebook wall as well as their own wall. They all have Facebook sites and a pic / vid of a bouncer assault goes viral in no time at all and can have a massive effect. Hate to say it but in many cases its more effective than us charging someone - justice by social media :-)

a policeman

Absalon said...

The victim should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. Blows to the head can leave the recipient vulnerable to serious injury (or death) from a subsequent blow.

You might consider writing to the owner of the pub and tell him what you saw and that if the victim sues you intend to testify to the fact of the assault.

Alternatively, if Australia requires pubs to be licensed, you could write to the licensing agency and make a complaint.

Anonymous said...

I'm assuming the said pub is in Sydney?

As a British recent arrival to Melbourne it seems that, from what I've seen and heard pub culture in Sydney is a far more dangerous affair than Melbourne.

In Melbourne it's not unusual to take the family along for an early evening pub meal, yet from what I've heard from fellow fathers from Sydney they would 'never' take their kids to a pub there (nothwithstanding the differences in local areas - some Melbourne pubs are just as bad).

Is that fair reflection?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm Sunday night from Bondi Junction to Bronte, can we play guess the pub?

My guess is Tea Gardens or the Cock and Bull. If he was Irish then I'll go with the Cock and Bull. I had the misfortune of going in there one Sunday evening, I almost feel as sorry for the bouncers as I do for the victim.

Anonymous said...

I think you are all being a bit hard on the Police. They do a difficult job under difficult conditions. Sure there are bad cops, but the officer would have summed up the situation and realised it was a dead end.

It is never acceptable to kick a guy on the ground in the head, but who knows what he did. There was alcohol involved. From what you have said, unless you have some photographic evidence, even if the Irish guy wanted to press charges, there would be little chance of a conviction for an enormous amount of work. And even with photographic evidence, it would be a struggle. Not a great excuse, but sometimes you have to make a call and I am sure that is what the local cop did on the night.

Good that you did the right thing though as you certainly helped the kid.

Anonymous said...

The sad fact is that if every matter was dealt with in an appropriate way the policing / justic system would choke and grind to a holt. It would cost the State a fortune to enforce the law absolutely. Police discretion and the laziness of victims in pursuing their rights allows the system to work in a reasonably effective manner.

Anonymous said...

John, I've read your blog on and off for a couple of years. As luck would have it I'm Irish. I just want to say thanks for getting involved.

Regardless of anyone pressing charges, you can be damn sure that your presence *alone* kept the kicking down to one and possibly prevented serious damage, even if the guy in question never realises it. Good on you.

GB said...

Nice work John. The supposed culture of violence in Aussie pubs is often just a reflection of tension caused by aggro bouncers. I don't know how you turn it around now, but we'll never have quiet and peaceful pubs when they're being guarded by some people who love to throw a punch. Actually, I once knew of a bouncer who regularly king-slapped patrons, specifically because punches leave bruises and this avoided problems with the police! they all know where the blind spots on the cameras are too.
A generation or two ago these blokes would have been lifting sacks or cutting cane, and slugging it out with each other after work perhaps. Today, they become bouncers or, worse, occasionally cops. It's a power trip and a very sad state of affairs. Good on you for doing your bit to resist.

William M. Connolley said...

Obvious comment (already made) is that whipping out your smartphone to video the incident would have been the obvious thing to do.

I'm slightly curious - did you feel at all inhibited from doing so because you were worried they might come after you to get the evidence?

John Hempton said...

Would you believe that whilst I routinely hack phones I don't routinely carry one.

William M. Connolley said...

> Would you believe that whilst I routinely hack phones I don't routinely carry one.

Hard to believe, but if you say so I believe you.

However, nowadays its so rare (I assert) that its worth mentioning up front to avoid confusion.

Drifting off topic but... given that they are now so small, so useful, and so cheap, you must have a positive reason for not wanting to carry one. It can't be "I don't want to read my work email" cos that can be got round, so it might be interesting to know why not.

Anonymous said...

I have spent the last month walking the streets of Buenos Aries, a place many believe to be dangerous and is not at all.

For some reason I keep thinking back to how violent my home town of Sydney is becoming. There is some really ugly behavior happening.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly why pub security should be nationalized and pub owners forced to contract security from the monopoly state provider. It would mean that thugs aren't on the doors of pubs (look what happened to that guy at the ivy, dragged downstairs tied to a chair then beaten senseless). There's no point having those policing when patrons have had enough paid for by those who stand to lose the most by chucking the best patrons out before they get stupidly drunk ...

Anonymous said...

This is such a common occurrence that the sidewalk outside of tea gardens is made of that soft rubber floor that is used in kids playgrounds. The bouncers at these pubs have been in trouble with the Police for being too violent before. I imagine that the Police will review the CCTV footage and get in touch if it was excessive.

Anonymous said...

I recommend you get rid of the electric bike.

Pigs In Gainsville said...

Same story in the US (especially college towns).

Was made aware of a young man (mid 20's) who got the same out of 2 (or 3) hired thugs (security) after being told to leave a bar.

The young man did provoke them (reason he was told to leave and escorted out)but what they did after the fact was assault which resulted in an ER visit, sutures, and permanent disfigurement to his mouth.

The police didn't seem very interested in the assault victim's story, either, despite being called to the scene shortly after the assault.

Anonymous said...

I believe the magic words at the cop shop are "I wish to make a statement, and am willing to go to court", then get the incident number so you can follow up. Video would help.

Indeed Sydney bouncers have killed in the past:

The legislative "solution" would be laughable were it not so tragic: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/star-city-bouncers-to-be-given-immunity-from-prosecution/story-e6frg6o6-1225878247704

Anonymous said...

For some one looking for fraud/corruption, I would have thought you could come up with multiple answers. The cops know the owners of the pub, the cops get free beer/money from the pub, the cops know the bouncers, the bouncers are off duty cops, the cops are lazy, the cops don't care, cops have wasted time in the past on similar cases, etc etc.

Rahul Deodhar said...

You are right the police should have recorded your statement just in case (let me clarify).

The police should take the official report of the crime. When we report any crime, they don't simply take it down officially i.e. unless the victim wants to continue they do not enter in their records.

This attitude is present in bar districts and areas where two (generally) equally guilty people end up fighting.

The reason is because official complaints tend to get added to the report card of the police station or locality (in crime rate numbers for instance).

If they have entered in their records, then immediately they record the statement of the reporter and any witness. such statements are particularly elaborate involving descriptions of offenders, time, which side of road you were riding, why, etc.

If they have taken your phone number and address it means if there is an official complaint later, they will call you.

In case you have given such number to police, it is best to note down what happened in great detail for personal use. It will be easier to remember if the complaint is eventually filed a few days later.

Anonymous said...

I broke up a fight recently, and I now have some permanent scars (keloids) to prove it.

Anyway, afterwards, when I got the underlying story, turns out that both the guys deserved to get the s--- kicked out of them. It takes two to tango. Next time, just keep riding.

General disclaimer

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Hempton. You should assume Mr. Hempton and his affiliates have positions in the securities discussed in this blog, and such beneficial ownership can create a conflict of interest regarding the objectivity of this blog. Statements in the blog are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and other factors. Certain information in this blog concerning economic trends and performance is based on or derived from information provided by third-party sources. Mr. Hempton does not guarantee the accuracy of such information and has not independently verified the accuracy or completeness of such information or the assumptions on which such information is based. Such information may change after it is posted and Mr. Hempton is not obligated to, and may not, update it. The commentary in this blog in no way constitutes a solicitation of business, an offer of a security or a solicitation to purchase a security, or investment advice. In fact, it should not be relied upon in making investment decisions, ever. It is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author. In particular this blog is not directed for investment purposes at US Persons.