The Argus at KellyGang 16/4/1880 (2)

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The police officials themselves being at a loss to account for the futility of their supposed efforts, have from time to time circulated happy little fictions to the effect that the troopers were possessed of such information as must lead to the capture of the ruffians. These romances have always proved groundless, the "information received" never having led to the certain riddance of the outlaws, nor even to their being seen. We believe that very few persons really attribute this resultless chase to either inefficiency or cowardice on the part of individual members of the police forces, mounted or foot. The North-Eastern Ensign, which certainly appears to be one of the best informed journals in the "Kelly country" on the bushranging topic, has recounted scores of instances in which the vigilance and activity of the troopers, when likely to bear fruit, has been utterly destroyed by the redtape regulations.

It did not signify what was the urgency of the clue obtained by the police, they must report it to their sergeant, and he in his turn was forced to convey it to head-quarters; each of these transmissions caused delay, and each official required his leisure to ponder over the news, so that when action was ordered it was far too late to be of practical avail, and the police always found that their game had flown away, and that they were a day after the fair. Fully alive to the necessity of making an impression of decided action, the commissioner of police, accompanied by a small army of reporters, troopers, and civilians, would occasionally take a morning gallop over the ranges, awakening echoes sufficiently loud to give the Kellys timely notice of the approach of the cavalcade, and so avert what might have proved an awkward termination to a day's outing for the supposed pursuers, whose actions, however, partook far more closely of the procedure of a hunting gathering or party on a pleasure bent.

The farce was too rich and the accessories too expensive to allow the extravaganza to run for ever, so after a season of 18 months the drop curtain appears in the announcement that the rewards will be withdrawn three months hence; in other words, the game has been played out, and the three months' grace represents the customary advertised "positively last appearance." So much for redtapeism in Victoria. A pleasing change from Victorian failures and Victoria police regulations is furnished by the results of the police systems of New South Wales and South Australia. The Hatfield bushrangers, the Wantabadgery gang, and three or four ruffians of the Darling, Dubbo, and Bathurst district have been captured at the very outset of their career, frequently by a less number of police than the number of criminals. This has been accomplished by allowing the police a wise discretion, and scores of instances can be referred to in which the police have followed their quarry 100, 200, and even 500 miles without being required to report, and have thus successfully coped with cunning rascals.

Severe maladies require severe remedies, and it is only by allowing the police to act with promptitude and energy that the bush-craft and skill of the Kellys can be successfully met. Our Saturday's telegraphic advises from South Australia disclosed the fact that a trooper had ridden nearly 800 miles before overtaking a horsestealer. What a contrast is this to the Victorian troopers' regulations. If he rode a tenth of the distance in pursuit of his man without reporting himself, it is more than probable that his occupation would be, like Othello's?gone. It is only by giving more liberty to the police force that the gang of desperadoes (if they are really in Victoria, which is to be seriously doubted) can ever be taken.


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