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Will the real finks please stand up

SURELY our police force must have better things to do.

We are regularly told Victoria Police is stretched for resources and struggles to put enough officers on the streets.

If that's the case, how can the force's hierachy justify a 10-month investigation to find the source of a story that caused nothing more serious than a case of embarrassment?

The official answer is they are obliged to investigate a criminal offence, such as the leaking of a confidential internal document to a reporter.

The truth is more likely to be that the hierachy, starting at the very top, is obsessed with controlling the flow of information on police matters.

So obsessed, they are prepared to devote time, money and manpower to a search for someone to punish.

So obsessed, they are prepared to pay for my personal and business telephone records, then require a carrier to tell them who I've phoned and who's called me during the period when the offending story was written.

So obsessed, they then question- under caution and threat of prosecution - police who have had the misfortune to ring at the wrong time, demanding to know the reason for the call and the nature of their relationship with me.

The story in question, published on November 26 last year, was about the arrival in Victoria of two notorious motorcycle gangs, the Comancheros and the Finks.

It quoted an intelligence alert from the force's gang desk, which said both gangs were establishing their first chapters in Victoria and were looking for suitable clubhouse premises in the inner suburbs.

The "police - in confidence" alert asked police to report sightings of bikies wearing club colours, or any other outlaw motorcycle gang activity.

The story was embarrassing to senior police because their public position on bikie gangs had been: they're not a problem and we don't need the same draconian laws proposed by other states.

One senior officer even told a federal parliamentary committee the force had "bigger fish to fry".

There has since been evidence bikies are growing in power in Victoria.



Publication of my story did not jeopardise any police operation or investigation or cause any personal risk to anyone.

If it had, the story would not have been published.

GEOFF WILKINSON was Victoria Police media director from 1981-89.

He created the Crime Stoppers program in Victoria in 1987 and in 2008 was awarded an OAM for community service.

He is a director of Crime Stoppers Victoria Ltd and a member of the Blue Ribbon Day Council.


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