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The potential for police to abuse the Newman Government's draconian bikie laws is a frightening prospect

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If the old vagrancy and consorting laws could be used as blunt weapons by bent coppers, the bikie laws are almost nuclear warheads by comparison. Source: News Limited

THE Queensland Police Service will soon be charged with enforcing some of the most dangerous laws ever enacted by an Australian Parliament.

And, it is responsible for identifying the outlaw motorcycle clubs proscribed under the state's draconian laws and nominating the clubhouses that are off limits.

Rarely has a police force been given such powers and never has one been given such responsibility to ensure that the net cast over outlaw gangs will not entangle honest citizens.

However, the potential for abuse of these laws by overzealous or even corrupt police is frightening.

If the old vagrancy and consorting laws could be used as blunt weapons by bent coppers, the bikie laws are almost nuclear warheads by comparison.

I don't believe there is a single police officer who is consciously contemplating misusing or abusing the wide powers they are to be given but it will quite probably happen sooner or later.

That might sound like a gross collective libel but it is merely an acknowledgment of the nature of the beast and the facts of life.

It is always a leap of faith to give police wider powers, particularly those that allow them to target specific groups.

However, that trust would be strengthened if we could be assured of the service's ability and willingness to detect, weed out and punish wrongdoers in its ranks.

Sadly, the record does not always give encouragement in that fond belief.

Only last week we discovered that the investigation into allegations police brutally and cowardly assaulted chef Noa Begic in the basement of the Surfers Paradise police station is unfinished 20 months after the event.

This was a disgraceful affair that gained worldwide notoriety when in-house video footage was obtained by The Courier-Mail and subsequently went viral.

The best Commissioner Ian Stewart could say was that disciplinary action was being consider by the deputy commissioner.

However, the service managed to act with more vigour to investigate and lodge a disciplinary charge against Sergeant Rick Flori who is accused of leaking the video.

In contrast, the two officers stood down pending the outcome of the investigation into the assault are yet to face any serious disciplinary action.

It seems an affront to police regulations is a matter of more urgency than the assault of a member of the public.

There are serious matters of reputation and career at stake here but, come on, get real.

Every man and his dog saw this assault, which shook the reputation of the service and unfairly reflected on good, honest police men and women, but the investigation drags on.

This is a terrible injustice to Begic, the individual officers and the police as a whole, and the taxpaying public.

The charge against Flori, if proven, is vexed given the ongoing conflict between loyalty and whistle-blowing but it smacks of spite and a misplaced respect for the police culture.

It is not an isolated case.

For example, the saga of the assault on pensioner Bruce Rowe in the Queen St Mall, similarly captured on video for history, is dragging on with the Crime and Misconduct Commission and police service in dispute over what disciplinary action is appropriate - seven years after the event.

This was another instance in which the police service's investigative and disciplinary processes were found lacking and a small measure of justice was obtained only through a private prosecution against an officer concerned.

The difficulties of discipline in a quasi-military structure complicated by a powerful union, the sometimes weird thought patterns of the appeals process, political imperatives and public curiosity cannot be under estimated.

However, it is difficult to believe that an organisation with the investigative resources of the Queensland Police Service cannot do better.

Bizarrely, the new laws to be enforced by police will deliver bikies into the hands of the law with startling rapidity, make them liable for almost summary justice and automatically punish them for their associations.

Meanwhile, Begic, good police, innocent-until-proven-guilty police and the general public will be subjected to what increasingly looks like trial through exhaustion.