Class action resolves: wrongfully imprisoned children to be compensated by NSW Police

31 July 2015
The parties to a class action on behalf of young people, who were allegedly wrongfully imprisoned by NSW police as a result of problems with the NSW Police database, have reached a settlement of at least $1.85 million. The settlement is subject to final Court approval and paves the way for the young people affected to be properly compensated.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and Maurice Blackburn, who are jointly acting for the young people, are pleased that a settlement has been reached.

The case commenced in 2011 after PIAC became aware that children and young people were being wrongfully detained as a result of inaccurate or out-of-date information on the NSW Police computer system known as COPS (Computer Operational Policing System).

It was brought in order to achieve justice for the victims and to highlight the inaccuracies in this computer system.

‘Depriving a person of their liberty causes serious harm, especially to a young person. This case has re-affirmed this very important principle,’ said Edward Santow, PIAC’s CEO.

‘One of our 14-year-old clients was arrested, handcuffed and strip-searched on three separate occasions over a two-week period. He was held in custody overnight each time.

‘We call on the NSW Government to fix any remaining problems with COPS so that no-one else is arrested based on incorrect information,’ Mr Santow said.

‘Deprivation of liberty is the punishment of last resort. To detain without lawful excuse is wrong and those wronged deserve to be compensated. We are very pleased that the State has agreed to compensate these young people who were deprived of their liberty because of a computer problem,’ said Ben Slade, NSW Managing Principal at Maurice Blackburn.

‘There is no way vulnerable young people could possibly challenge such a well-resourced defendant as the state government without the class action regime we have in NSW,’ Mr Slade said.

Any young person not already registered will need to register by 9 October 2015 to be eligible for compensation. We encourage young people not already registered to contact PIAC on (02) 8898 6500.