While it’s in no way up for debate that if you drink and drive you’re a bloody idiot, it’s pretty clear that if you’re a police officer and you fake a preliminary breath test (PBT), well, you’re a bloody idiot too.
So it’s pretty disheartening for the people of Victoria to discover that the people they trust to serve and protect them have been doing just that.
The issue was first raised at the end of last year, leading to an intelligence assessment which found more than a quarter of a million falsified tests had occurred over a five-year period.
“The investigation, which analysed over five years of data, 1500 preliminary breath test devices and more than 17.7 million tests, disappointingly found 258,463 PBTs or 1.5 per cent of all tests had been falsified,” Professional Standards Command Assistant Commissioner Russell Barrett said.
Victoria Police has issued a state-wide directive following the revelation some police officers have falsified preliminary breath tests (PBTs). More → https://t.co/a7ted6r2It pic.twitter.com/ImNQVztAuF
— Victoria Police (@VictoriaPolice) May 30, 2018
However, this isn’t likely to see Victorians who may have been busted drink driving in the past five years receive a reprieve or pardon.
It wasn’t a case of officers falsifying tests in order to lock people up on the booze bus, but rather they were taking the test themselves or simply placing a finger over the PBT straw entry hole.
“As disappointing as this is, it should be noted that, at this stage in the investigation, there is no evidence to suggest fraud or any criminality has occurred. Similarly, there is nothing to suggest that any of this activity has impacted on any prosecutions,” Barrett said.
So why would they bother falsifying a test if not to somehow catch a bad guy? Barrett was of the belief it was “to hide or highlight productivity” – essentially so that coppers who had been sent out to do breath testing could tell their commanding officers they had tested X number of people, when in fact they had only tested Y.
“This conduct will not be tolerated, any member found engaging in this practice from today has been put on notice they will be investigated,” AC Barrett said.
“I had not heard of our members engaging in such a practice, we let ourselves down, we’ve let the community down. It stops now.”