Royal Commission second Report (page 2)

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The Royal Commission Second Report - Recommendations

2. That the conduct of Captain Standish, as Chief Commissioner of Police, as disclosed in the evidence brought before the Commissioners, was not characterized either by good judgment, or by that zeal for the interests of the public service which should have distinguished an officer in his position. The Commission attribute much of the bad feeling which existed amongst the officers to the want of impartiality, temper, tact, and judgment evinced by the Chief Commissioner in dealing with his subordinates, and they cannot refrain from remarking that many of the charges made by Captain Standish in his evidence before them were not sustained in his late examination, and were disproved by the evidence of other witnesses.

3. That Mr. Nicolson, Assistant Commissioner, has shown himself in many respects a capable and zealous officer throughout his career in the force, but he labored under great difficulties through undue interference on the part of Captain Standish, and the jealousy occasioned by that officer's favoritism towards Superintendent Hare. The want of unanimity existing between these officers was frequently the means of preventing concerted action on important occasions, and the interests of the colony greatly suffered thereby. In view of these facts, the Commission do not think that the force would be benefited by reinstating Mr. Nicolson in the office of Acting Chief Commissioner of Police. Further, your Commissioners recommend that, in consequence of his impaired constitution, caused by hardships endured in the late Kelly pursuit, Mr. Nicolson be allowed to retire on his superannuation allowance, as though he had attained the age of 55 years.

4. That the charge made by Superintendent Hare in his official report, dated 2nd July 1880 -Viz., that "Mr. Nicolson, Assistant Commissioner, gave me (Hare) no verbal information whatever when at Benalla" - has been disproved by the evidence.

5. That Superintendent Hare's services in the police force have been praiseworthy and creditable, but nothing special has been shown in his actions that would warrant the Commission in recommending his retention in the force, more especially when the fact is so patent that the "strained relations" between himself and Mr. Nicolson have had such a damaging influence on the effectiveness of the service. This feeling is not likely to be mitigated after what has transpired in the evidence taken before the Commission; and we would therefore recommend that Superintendent Hare be allowed to retire from the force, as though he had attained the age of 55 years, and that, owing to the wound he sustained at Glenrowan, he receive an additional allowance of £100 per annum, under clause 29 of the Police Statute (No. 476).

6. That the evidence discloses that Superintendent Sadleir was guilty of several errors of judgment while assisting in the pursuit of the Kelly gang; that his conduct of operations against the outlaws at Glenrowan was not judicious or calculated to raise the police force in the estimation of the public. That the Commission are further of opinion that the treatment of Senior-Constables Kelly and Johnson, by Superintendent Sadleir, was harsh and unmerited. Your Commissioners therefore recommend that Superintendent Sadleir be placed at the bottom of the list of superintendents.

7. That a most favorable opportunity of capturing the outlaws at a very early period of their career of crime, namely, on the 4th November 1878, was lost, owing to the indolence and incompetence of Inspector Brook Smith. Your Commissioners consider that Inspector Brook Smith committed a serious blunder in not having started in pursuit of the outlaws immediately upon receiving information of the gang having been seen passing under the bridge at Wangaratta, and also in not having properly followed up the tracks of the outlaws in the Warby Ranges, a proceeding which would have warranted your Commissioners in recommending his dismissal from the force. Your Commissioners, however, having in view his former services, recommend that Inspector Brook Smith be called on to retire on a pension of £100 per annum.

8. That, in the opinion of the Commission, Detective Ward, while he rendered active and efficient service during the pursuit of the gang, was guilty of misleading his superior officers upon several occasions, more especially in connection with Mr. Nicolson's cave party, Mr. Hare's hut party, and the telegram forwarded to Senior-Constable Mullane by Mr. Nicolson when the latter was superseded on the 2nd of June 1880. The Commission therefore recommend that Detective Ward be censured and reduced one grade.

9. That in the opinion of your Commissioners the conduct of Sergeant Steele was highly censurable in neglecting to take action when, on his arrival at Wangaratta, on the 4th November 1878, he received reliable information that the outlaws had been observed on the previous morning passing under the One-mile bridge at Wangaratta. There was no reason why, as he had a large body of well-armed troopers under his command, and was then actually engaged in the search for the outlaws, he should not have gone immediately in pursuit. The tracks were plainly discernible; the men observed were undoubtedly the outlaws, and had they been followed they would most probably have been overtaken in the Warby Ranges , inasmuch as their horses and themselves were exhausted by their journey to and from the Murray . Sergeant Steele had full power to act upon his own discretion, and there can be little doubt that, had he exhibited judgment and promptitude on that occasion, he would have been the means of capturing the gang, and preventing the loss of life and the enormous expenditure of money incurred subsequently in the extermination of the outlaws. Your Commissioners therefore recommend that Sergeant Steele be reduced to the ranks.

10. That the constables who formed the hut party on the night of Aaron Sherritt's murder - viz., Henry Armstrong, William Duross, Thos. Patrick Dowling, and Robert Alexander - were guilty of disobedience of orders and gross cowardice, and that the three latter - Constable Armstrong's resignation having been accepted - be dismissed from the service.....

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