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Prisoners encouraged to play their cards right

MCIB investigators at the scene of a homicide. Photo: SAPOL Photographic Section.

Operation Persist was launched in March 2015 with an hour-long documentary about South Australia’s cold cases on Channel 9. Unsolved homicides have also been featured on Channel 9’s ‘South Australia’s Most Wanted’ weekly news segment and in the Sunday Mail. Channel 9 also screened a 30-minute documentary about the 1994 National Crime Authority bombing that killed WA police officer Geoffrey Bowen and badly injured lawyer Peter Wallis.

The extensive media coverage was recognised at the Crime Stoppers International awards in 2016, with Channel 9 and News Limited winning the ‘Best Special Report/ Features’ categories for print and television. “These awards acknowledge the innovative engagement tactics being used in this campaign and the strong working partnership between Crime Stoppers and SAPOL,” said Crime Stoppers SA Chair, Sharon Hanlon.

A major component of Operation Persist involves engaging with around 2900 prisoners held in the state’s correctional facilities. As part of this innovative strategy, a series of playing cards – each featuring an unsolved murder – has been distributed to all prisoners, accompanied by an individual letter outlining the benefits available to them if they assist in solving one of the murder cases. Importantly, the cards inform prisoners of a dedicated telephone line which allows direct and confidential contact with a cold case investigator. Posters featuring the same information have also been displayed prominently in every police station and in jails, including cell areas and public waiting rooms. This is aimed at attracting the attention of around

30 000 people who are held in police cells and the 6000 people who pass through the state’s prison system each year. “We believe many of those people are likely to have information that could help solve a cold case murder,” Detective Superintendent Bray said. “This is a bold initiative which has the blessing of the victims’ families. So far it has been a success with more than 65 calls received, with a number of cases progressed as a direct result of prisoner cooperation. “We have had approaches from prisoners, lawyers, correctional staff and other people on behalf of prisoners. Some have provided us with formal statements, while others have been able to give us more general information.”

BLUE UEPR INTT ISSUE IS S U E 11 ~~ 2 0 1 7 BL PRIN

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Blueprint magazine Issue 1 2017  

Blueprint is South Australia Police’s official magazine. In each issue you will find informative and engaging articles covering a broad rang...

Blueprint magazine Issue 1 2017  

Blueprint is South Australia Police’s official magazine. In each issue you will find informative and engaging articles covering a broad rang...