National Justice Project launches Copwatch app in Dubbo

On Friday August 31, the National Justice Project travelled to Dubbo to launch our Copwatch app with the local Aboriginal community.

After a week of horrific statistics following the Guardian’s #DeathsInside project, holding police accountable and empowering Aboriginal youth in their interactions with law enforcement has never been more important.

We launched CopWatch to media with Des Jones, Chair of Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly, and then ran a training workshop with the local Aboriginal community.

Ngali Shaw, 18, was at the session and told the ABC that he would be using the app.

I’m going to use [filming] a lot, probably all the time,” he said. “And the pin, I’m going to use that. I’ll probably put my mum in, and my uncle.”

The Copwatch app has three key features: it explains your rights, sends an emergency text and geopin, and has a quick record button that uploads footage to the cloud.

The app equips Aboriginal communities to safely and legally document their interactions with police, and increases transparency.

“Overseas experience shows both police and community members behave better when they’re under scrutiny, full stop,” said George Newhouse, principal lawyer for the National Justice Project.

The app was launched in Dubbo, where a hardline policing approach has members of the Aboriginal community reporting feeling harassed.

“I feel like I cannot say anything,” Shaw said on Friday. “Like if I say something, they’re going to do something. If I try to stick up for myself, I feel like they’re going to try and make me feel like I’m in the wrong and pull me up for something. It’s real scary.”

Another Dubbo woman, MaryAnn Hozier, told the ABC that Copwatch had instilled her with confidence and would serve as a “wonderful tool for our mob”.

“They are going to feel like they’ve got someone there that’s going to care that they’ve been taken to the lock-up,” she said.

Read more about the launch in a report by ten daily: https://tendaily.com.au/news/crime/a180902swm/the-phone-app-aimed-at-reducing-police-harassment-and-abuse-20180902.

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