A Collusion of Powers by Philip Arantz

Memoir by detective who in 1971 released true crime statistics to the Sydney Morning Herald. For years the NSW Police had been lying about the real level of crime and the clear-up rate. Following the leak, Arantz was sent (briefly) to a psychiatric institution by outraged Police Commissioner Norman Allan, and became Australia’s first famous whistleblower.

The lengthy book was self-published in 1993, presumably because of the passage of time and because commercial publishers felt readers would be uninterested in the considerable level of detail Arantz wanted to put on the record. It is a generally honest account not always in its author’s favour, as it makes clear that Commissioner Allan had in fact been gradually revealing the true crime figures and had announced that a complete revelation would be made within a year. (This was all occurring in the context of introducing the computerisation of the figures.) So Arantz’s real beef with his bosses was not actually on what should be revealed but more simply when. It’s clear from the book that by 1971 he was alienated from the police culture and wished to be a martyr. Having said that, the responses by Commissioner Allan and Premier (and Police Minister) Robert Askin were brutal. It turned out that Arantz was more in touch with changing attitudes to public transparency and human relations than they were, and Allan retired prematurely the following year.