YOU can hardly blame the community for feeling uneasy about revelations that police officers have been given targets for the number of personal searches and move on orders they conduct each year.
The targets were made public by NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge who obtained the figures following a Freedom of Information request.
And they make interesting reading.
While people in the Kings Cross area were (perhaps unsurprisingly) subjected to the highest rate of searches and move along orders, even for the Chifley Police District the targets were surprisingly high.
According to the figures supplied by Mr Shoebridge, officers across the Chifley district have been set a target of 2146 person searches for the 2020 financial year - an average of almost six every day.
That target was an increase of five per cent on the 2043 searches police were supposed to conduct in the 2019 financial year.
In turn, that figure was a massive 20 per cent increase on the 1697 searches budgeted in 2018, though a change in boundaries for the district to take in new areas including Cowra helps explain that anomaly.
It was a similar story with regard to the targeted number of "move on" orders to be issued by police, with a big jump from 466 to 525 between 2018 and 2019 and then just a small rise to 529 for the 2020 financial year.
But the question many are asking now is, what real purpose do such targets serve?
Is there any real need to apply these targets and does the pressure of having these targets hanging over their heads influence the way officers carry out their duties?
The answer must be yes (if it was no the targets wouldn't exist) so then we have to ask, does that influence make for better or worse policing decisions?
It's clear where Mr Shoebridge stands (he was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday as saying "the fact that people are being stopped and searched, not to address the circumstances on the ground, but to meet arbitrary quotas, is a dreadful development") and many would agree.
There's nothing untoward about officers having the right, under appropriate circumstances, to search civilians or ask them to move on, but the existence of targets inevitably creates the impression that those powers might be used incorrectly.
And that suspicion is an unfair and unwanted burden on those police officers who just want to do their job.