Why CopWatch Exists
CopWatch was created in 2018 because Indigenous Australians are 13 times more likely to end up in prison and 20 times more likely to be arrested than non-Indigenous Australians. Over-policing and police targeting and harassment of Indigenous Australians are major contributing factors to these terrible statistics.
In 2021, other sectors of the Community and Legal profession enquired about the use of CopWatch. While Indigenous Australians remain critically over-represented in the justice system, other sectors require the same assistance. In Consultation with communities and legal sectors, CopWatch was redeveloped, and its availability to a broader community was released in 2022.
Documenting police interactions and storing this evidence can protect people who are vulnerable to the actions of the police. This evidence can prove what happened and ensure systemic problems are revealed and resolved. This is a crucial component of building peace between the community and police and a foundation step for creating community trust.
The National Justice Project (NJP) is rolling out a Community Education Training program called 'CopWatch'. This training will empower people to use their smartphones to document police and community interactions safely and lawfully. Abuses of authority lead to community frustration, perpetuating negativity on all sides. With CopWatch, we hope to equip people with the tools to seek justice and accountability, turn this negativity around and rebuild trust with police.
The NJP is a not-for-profit human rights legal service. We work with some of Australia's most vulnerable people and communities, providing legal support to people who struggle to access justice. George Newhouse, the Principal Lawyer at the NJP, explains more about Copwatch:
"Overseas experience shows police and community members behave better when they're under scrutiny, full stop. We think there will be better behaviour, and the relationship between police and communities will improve. That will ultimately end up with lower problematic interactions between police and the community."
This community education strategy will help improve engagement, trust and accountability, especially between Aboriginal people and police. The program consists of:
Community training and education sessions;
The Copwatch app; and
Legal research and additional information via the Copwatch website and other channels.
Contact us to find out more, to bring Copwatch to your community or to contribute to this important work.
Getting further help
How do I complain about police conduct?
How do I get legal help?