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Officers from the State Government's railway security force had
made unwarranted citizen's arrests, taken a passenger in a headlock
and made an innocent man squat on the ground in handcuffs for 15
minutes, the Ombudsman has found in a damning annual report.
Just 3 per cent of complaints against the security officers had
been upheld by RailCorp and the Government should allow the
Ombudsman to oversee complaints, Bruce Barbour found.
Mr Barbour said 74 per cent of RailCorp's complaint
investigations were "unsatisfactory".
On many occasions, only the transit officer who was the subject
of the complaint was interviewed, he found.
"There are cases documented in our annual report where people
have been assaulted, people have been inappropriately treated," Mr
Barbour said. "One person was made to squat for 15 minutes while he
was handcuffed until police arrived but ultimately he wasn't
charged with anything. He had a valid ticket and he hadn't done
Mr Barbour said one of the 600 transit officers had been
dismissed from the NSW police force because of inappropriate
behaviour. "It hardly now seems appropriate for him to be employed
as a transit officer, wearing a baton, having the capacity to
handcuff people and being able to unlawfully detain people," he
The report found 14 transit officers had been complained about
more than three times and three of them had been complained about
Mr Barbour said he had talked to several talkback callers
yesterday who had successfully challenged fines they had been given
The Transport Minister, John Watkins, said he had begun
improving the complaints system earlier this year. It was clear
that some of the behaviour of officers was unacceptable, he said,
but the independent transport safety regulator had found "seven out
of 10" people felt safer on trains because of the officers' high
The Opposition's transport spokesman, Barry O'Farrell, said he
was not sure if it was a "small minority of transit officers
… abusing their power" or a "classic goon squad". He called
on the Government to implement all recommendations and introduce
independent oversight of the officers.
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