Victoria Police under fire for force used on 12-year-old boy’s arrest [VIDEO]

By @chelean on
Policemen simulate an arrest during national security day in Nice, southeastern France, October 10, 2009.
Policemen simulate an arrest during national security day in Nice, southeastern France, October 10, 2009. Reuters/Eric Gaillard

The Victoria Police are under fire after a video of them using force to arrest a 12-year-old boy. The video was shot by a witness from Bendigo train station on Friday.

In the footage (watch video below from 3AWRadio), three officers are seen restraining the boy to the ground, with a female witness calling out, “He’s a child! Are you going to pepper-spray and taser him next?” One officer reasoned out that the boy was being unruly.

“I can’t let him kick people, and I can’t let him stand on top of the railway station bridge, where he’s going to hurt himself,” the police said. The child was arrested for allegedly climbing into the station’s roof and posing a danger to himself and others.

Initial reports claimed that the boy was autistic. However, this was later refuted by the police. Police Association’s Sergeant Wayne Gatt also defended the actions of the officers, saying they acted sensibly during the situation because the boy was endangering both his safety and of others.

“It is very easy to judge the actions of police with the benefit of hindsight, however police never have this luxury and are required to respond with limited information, at a moment’s notice and deal with difficult incidents as they evolve,” he said. The boy was apparently not injured during the arrest.

The woman who filmed the arrest told Bendigo Advertiser that the boy was not being uncontrollable when the police approached him. He just allegedly became resistant when the officers restrained and pushed him against the wall.

Dannie Wattie said she and her partner were leaving the railway station and walking towards Marketplace when six officers approached the boy, who was just sitting on the ground with another person. She did not see what happened prior to the arrival of the police, but she said the boy “wasn’t doing anything” and just sitting on the ground.

Federation for Community Legal Centres Victoria engagement director Melanie Poole said that the outrage over the use of force during the child’s arrest was justified. She said the police must be trained to deescalate such emergency situations.

“For any parent watching it, it’s pretty distressing to see the disproportionate force being used on a 12-year-old,” she said. Poole also criticised Victoria Police for backing the officers’ actions before there was an investigation.

Victoria Police, the paper notes, did not answer questions about the training its members received. It also declined to comment if there would be a review of the officers’ actions.