NSW police have been keeping a watch list under their Suspect Target Management Plan (STMP) since 2000. To make it onto the list, you need not have committed a crime, and you won’t be told you’re on it. If you suspect that you’re on it, there’s no way of getting taken off.
One factor overwhelmingly informs the likelihood of being on the list – being an Indigenous child. They are 18 times more likely to be under STMP surveillance.
The STMP program permits any police officer across NSW to nominate individuals as possible targets. There’s no legislation governing the STMP list, and NSW Police has refused to reveal its methodology for placing people on the list.
But a quick glance at STMP statistics reveals the overriding methodology is, as Greens MLC David Shoebridge said, “racist policing, pure and simple”.
In one local area command, all 10 people subject to the STMP were Indigenous. Children as young as 10 have been placed on the STMP, and 300 children are targeted.
Victims of STMP profiling, which many aptly call “the STOMP”, usually guess they’re on the list only after facing systematic police harassment. They are visited repeatedly by police at their home and will be routinely stopped and searched, sometimes daily, on the street.
In one case, revealed by solicitor Camilla Pandolfini, a 14-year-old Aboriginal boy was stopped and searched 28 times despite having no prior charges.
At a Sydney protest against Black deaths in police custody on 12 May, speakers highlighted that police target, abuse and murder Indigenous youth with impunity.
Programs like STMP are part of a deeper racist rot at the heart of the Australian criminal injustice system, contributing to Indigenous people being the most incarcerated people in the world.