Australian Crimes
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Monday 28th November 1881:
Kelly Spurs On Police Changes
    The royal commission established to inquire into the functioning of the Victorian Police has described the Kelly Gang period and the corresponding police hunt as 'a disgraceful and humiliating episode in the history of the colony.' It has brought down its first report, recommending a number of dismissals, forced retirements and demotions for charges which range from 'arrant cowardice' to 'indolence and incompetence."
    The inquiry was prompted by the handling of the hunt for the Kelly Gang, which raised a number of concerns regarding the effectiveness of the colony's police force.
    The commission was to inquire into the circumstances before and during the Kelly's activities; the efficiency of the police in dealing with such outbreaks; the actions of the police during the time the Kelly Gang were active; the efficiency of the method used to capture them; and the present state and organisation of the police force at present.
    The commission, under the chairmanship of Member of the Upper House Mr Francis Longmore, has been hearing evidence to address the first four points this year. But since the commission began, a number of changes have occurred to the line-up of police management. Acting Chief Commissioner Nocolson, who replaced Chief Commissioner Standish shortly after the Kelly Gang's siege at Glenrowan last year, has himself been forced to take a leave of absence.
    Two Superintendants, Mr F. Hare and Mr J. Sadleir, were also forced down the same path. In the report, the commission has recommended the forced retirement of Mr Nicolson and Mr Hare. Superintendant Sadleir has been found guilty of errors of judgement and has received a demotion.
   Other police involved in the hunt for the Kelly Gang have been criticised, including Inspector Brook Smith for 'indolence and incompetence'. Inspector Smith has been forced to retire on a pension. Detective Michael Ward has been demoted one grade for misleading his superiors and Seargent A. Steele has been censured for 'impromptitude and poor judgement.'
    Constables Armstrong, Alexander, Duross and Dowling have been found guilty of 'arrant cowardice'. Constable Armstrong has resigned and the others have been sacked.
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