Well Simon Overland has fallen on his sword but this resignation will reach far further than today. He is in a way taking a fall for the gutless politicians hiding behind the stats he rushed out before the last election. Now who in their right mind would do that when they were incomplete and incorrect UNLESS they had political pressure applied to them? Fudged is the word used these days, and politicians think they are masters, but in this day and age when anyone can discover data rather quickly for themselves, Fudging is not what is used to be. Here’s the story from the Victorian newspaper The Herald Sun A news conference is scheduled for 1.30pm
UPDATE 12.38pm: SIMON Overland has resigned as Chief Commissioner following the tabling of a damning Ombudsman’s report into the release of dodgy crime statistics prior to last year’s state election.
Premier Ted Baillieu said he had had discussions with Mr Overland following the release of a damning Ombudsman’s report this morning.
“We have had discussions since receiving this report with the Chief Commissioner and the Chief Commissioner has advised that he will today be submitting his resignation to the Governor. And indeed I understand that that has now occurred,” Mr Baillieu said.
“We thank him for his service to the State Government of Victoria.”
Police Minister Peter Ryan said he had considered the report over the past 24 hours and rang Mr Overland last night.
“In the course of our discussions, he (Mr Overland) indicated to me he would offer his resignation as commissioner of police. I indicated that offer would be accepted,” Mr Ryan said.
“We wish him well in his future career.”
Mr Ryan said Mr Overland’s resignation “has been tendered”.
He said Deputy Commissioner Ken Lay would be the acting chief commissioner effective from tomorrow morning.
Mr Ryan said he would not go into details of his discussion with Mr Overland overnight.
“Today’s report is compelling document,” Mr Ryan said.
“The key thing here is that the process we have relied on has taken its course.”
Mr Baillieu said there were “significant concerns” in the report despite the recommendations having been followed.
He stressed the Rush inquiry into police command would still go ahead.
The Ombudsman’s report found crime data released last October was distorted and was always likely to be used as a political tool.
Ombudsman George Brouwer found the police claims of a 27.5 per cent reduction in assaults was “misleading and inconsistent with all other available data”.
The decision to release the dodgy crime statistics on the eve of entering election caretaker mode was the Chief Commissioner’s and his alone.
But Mr Overland gave evidence that his decision to rush the statistics and release them before they had a chance to qualify the data was far from being politically motivated, saying his decision was made to avoid releasing them closer to the election.
“I do accept that is a reason why it is important to qualify data…and that it was an oversight and mistake not to have done that on this occasion,” he told the Ombudsman.
“My evidence is quite clear that I appreciated the political sensitivity of the release of quarterly crime statistics at this time…relying on unsettled data without appropriate qualification was a mistake, but there is no basis to suggest it was conscious manipulation.”
Speaking on 3AW radio today, police union secretary Greg Davies said the report showed that despite the police commissioner’s denial, concerns about the release of the statistics had clearly been raised with him.
“I think it’s clear when you read the entire report, that there was a large body of disquiet amongst senior police at the force about these figures.
“Despite the police commissioner’s denial that anyone spoke to him about it, he chose to release them.
“I think it’s incomprehensible that he would do that in the face of that advice.”
He said Mr Overland told the inquiry the force would never had relied on the figures.
“It’s not good enough to make operation decisions on, but it’s good enough to release in the middle of an election campaign on law and order,” Mr Davies said.
“It’s almost beyond belief.”
Mr Davies said there had been “a trail of contradiction” in police statistics that raised questions about how they were used.
“We know that the information was incorrect.”
“It was known at the time according to various executive directors that have been quoted within this report, that the figures were at best were “not settled” is the term that is referred to in this report.
“Yet the middle of the law and order election, we’ve got a chief commissioner coming out and taking the decision, entirely of his own volition to release this stuff. People can draw your own conclusions.”
In response to differing versions of the events between Mr Overland and his media advisor, Mr Davies said: “There can only be one person telling the truth.”
“It’s a sorry tale of woe all the way through.”
Mr Davies said the crisis was “extremely unsettling” for rank and file police, even as a high-ranking detective had been lost and it appeared a highly-decorated deputy commissioner Sir Ken Jones was also gone.
Overland was warned by advisor
This morning’s report also criticised senior police for failing to pass on the force’s senior statistician’s warning that the data was not complete.
It also found Mr Overland was warned by his senior media advisor Nicole McKechnie about the “volatility” of the figures and urged him against including them.
“I raised it with the Chief Commissioner . . . essentially it was, I’m – concerned about including these figures. I understand the Government’s keen to have them in but I’m concerned about them being included because – because of the perception,” the report quotes Ms McKechnie as telling the Ombudsman.
The report notes Ms McKechie said it was the Chief Commissioner’s decision to release the crime statistics and that there was some haste to get the media release out before the start of the caretaker period.
Mr Brouwer said Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe should have recognised the data was misleading as he attended a crime statistics forum just three weeks before the data was released and the figure for assaults was a 4.2 per cent increase.
Mr Brouwer found the faulty data let rank and file police officers down by undermining their ability to push for greater resources.
He recommended an independent body be set up for managing the release of crime statistics.
Mr Andrews said the report failed to justify the “unrelenting campaign” being waged by the Coalition against Mr Overland and denied the police chief was proven to be incompetent.
Former Labor Police Minister James Merlino denied he or anyone else had ever placed pressure on the force to release the data and that he simply commented on it after it had been independently released.
“The timing was absolutely a decision of Victoria Police,” Mr Merlino said.