Fmr High Court chief Murray Gleeson - "where summons is available, arrest is quite wrong, it's a serious abuse of power"
The Honourable Murray Gleeson AC QC - chief justice of the High Court of Australia from 1998 to 2008.
He's speaking here about police accountability.
...the power of arrest is a power that is given for the purpose of taking into custody suspected wrongdoers in circumstances where such custody is necessary for the proper administration of justice. It is not a power that is to be exercised punitively. The police are not given a power to arrest suspected offenders for the purpose of enabling the police to punish such people, and the exercise of a power of arrest for such a purpose would be a serious abuse of power.
......many criminal proceedings are of a kind that can be commenced either by arrest..or by the much less dramatic procedure of the issue of a summons. Where there is no reasonable apprehension that an accused person will fail to turn up at court to answer the charges, and where the issue of a summons is an available procedure, it would be quite wrong to use the procedure of arrest or warrant - where the purpose of doing so is to display the law operating with its full severity.
A perfect summation of yesterday's spectacle.
What happened yesterday sounds like a scenario from an exam at the police academy.
An offender who's a pregnant mum at home with two children, not a continuing offence, no risk to safety or property, strong ties to the community, no reason to believe she's a flight risk, cooperative - a copybook case for summons.
As the former Chief Judge said, arrest in those circumstances was "quite wrong" and potentially "A serious abuse of power".
So why did it happen?
The politics in yesterday's debacle were crystal clear.
Handcuffing and carting away a pregnant mother was intended to be "A display of the law operating with its full severity".
Compare yesterday's showy arrest with Victoria Police's acquiescence to the wishes of Black Lives Matter organisers.
Victoria Police and the Andrews Labor government are far too close to each other and the police force is far too political.
And that's deadly to the rule of law and democracy.