... part of the KellyGang story
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The Police Commission will meet to-morrow at 11 am. The witnesses who have been summoned are Major Smith, Major Sargood, Inspector Secretan, Detective Duncan, and Patrick Boardman. The full and official report of the commission on the charges preferred against Superintendent Winch and Sub inspector Larner, the substance of which we have previously published, is given in another column. The report published by a contemporary on Friday was unauthorised and incorrect.
The Gipps Land Mercury writes as follows about the doings of the Police Commission:-
"The commission has alternately threatened, bullied, or cajoled witnesses into making charges against officers, it has not disdained to stoop to listen to petty tale bearing, and on many occasions it has displayed an animus against certain officers which has been utterly unworthy of a body of men assembled in the interests of the public. It has jumped to haely and ill considered conclusions which have not been borne out. Many of its recommendations have been set aside, and it is a wonder that the commission ever survived the first blunders which it made. Superintendent Winch has demanded a board of inquiry outside of the commission, and there seems to be no valid reason why this officer, who has served nearly 30 years in the Victorian Police Force, should not be granted a full and fair inquiry into his conduct. Mr Winch may be guilty, but he has not been proved to be so; and on the other hand, the commission has unmistakably acted with strong bias against him. The Government cannot rely much upon a commission which was so recently exposed by the publication of the shameless correspondence which was addressed by the secretary of the commission to Senior Constable Bourke, in which efforts were made alternately to cajole and browbeat that officer into aiding the commission in its secret work of ferreting out information against officers, and into holding his tongue about the overtures made to him in the name of the commission. The publication of those letters by The Argus should have had the effect of giving the death blow to the existence of a star chamber system of inquiry into acknowledged evils, which has aggravated those evils and led to the total demoralisation of a force which might have been rescued from the disorders into which it had drifted. All reasonable men who have studied the records of the Police Commission, so far as they have been permitted to appear, will agree that it would be unsafe to condemn a dog upon their recommendation. It is quite time in fact that a summary stop was put to the existence of a body which certainly has not earned the confidence of the public, and the members of which have given evidence of the possession of no special qualities for the mission with which they are entrusted, save a faculty for unearthing petty details."
REPORT OF THE POLICE COMMISSION
On Friday we published the substance of the report of the Police Commission upon the cases of Superintendent Winch and Sub inspector Larner, and appended is its full text. It was not finally disposed of by the commission until Friday, and was presented to His Excellency the Governor in the after-noon. An incorrect version has been given in another paper from a surreptitiously obtained draft of the original.
AD INTERIM REPORT. May it please your Excellency: -
The Royal Commission appointed to inquire into and report upon the present state and organisation of the police of Victoria have the honour to present the following ad interim report respecting certain charges preferred against Superintendent F A Winch and Sub inspector Larner.
Your commissioners may promise by stating that owing to their desire when conducting the examination of witnesses to adhere strictly to the recognised rules of evidence, the difficulties experienced in obtaining distinct and tangible information in support of many of the allegations made, appeared for a time insurmountable.
In the course of the investigation grave imputations, orally and in writing, were levelled against the police. It was alleged that a wholesale system of blackmailing prevailed in Melbourne, of which publicans were the victims; that constables who discharged their duties conscientiously in enforcing the law for the repression of the social evil and against Sunday trading were summarily transferred to other districts; that certain officers were subsidised by traders carrying on the infamous, traffic of purveying for establishments used for purposes of public prostitution; that subordinate members of the force purchased their promotion, and afforded monetary assistance to their superior officers when pressed by creditors; and that certain officers were the intimate associates of persons of ill repute, to the scandal and demoralisation of the entire force.
The discovery of the names of Superintendent Winch and Sub inspector Larner in the books of a Mr Rowe, licensee of the Princess Royal Hotel, Bourke street , afforded the commission some prospect of securing direct proof of the general charges affecting those officers. At that time the commission were anxious to close their labours, and they hesitated about taking any action that might have the effect of greatly protracting the inquiry. In the meantime, however, Sub- inspector Larner admitted having borrowed money from Mr Rowe, and was reprimanded, while Superintendent Winch, denying the accusation, demanded a board to investigate the matter. The board, as requested, was appointed, and the conclusion arrived at was that the evidence adduced did not sustain the charges made.
This finding, which was virtually the exoneration of Mr Winch, was accepted by the Government, and your commissioners considered that they had no other alternative than to abide by the result.
This document gives you the text of the report about the KellyGang for this day. The text has been retyped from a microfiche copy of the original on the National Library of Australia's system. We have taken care to reproduce this document but areas of the original text may been damaged. We also apologise for any typographical errors.