Giving up a Lifetime of Crime: Ron Iddles with John Silvester

Outgoing Police Association of Victoria secretary Ron Iddles' “25 years of homicide investigation in 25 minutes”, with police reporter John Silvester (52:41)

A game of Russian roulette that played out to the end, an elaborate suicide with a shotgun and a mirror, a killer who poured petrol into his victim’s body then lit a smoke and blew his own eyebrows off – these were some of the bizarre and gruesome cases outgoing Police Association secretary Ron Iddles detailed in his 22 February Melbourne Press Club address.

The veteran detective described his talk as “25 years of homicide investigation in 25 minutes”, and he outlined in it both practical principles for solving crime and his views on some of the causes of it.

High among contributing factors, Iddles believes, are mental health problems fed by inadequate human engagement.

Our fast-paced, technologised societies are increasing the prevalence of depression, anxiety and social isolation, he said, which in extreme cases result in suicides and homicides.

Striking in Iddles’ outlook was the humanity with which he approaches perpetrators as well as victims and their families.

“People who commit homicides are good people who make bad choices in life. Their emotions outrun their intelligence,” he said.

On relations with the media, Iddles said the two groups were mutually dependent, and while there was a lack of trust of journalists among police in Victoria, the media played a crucial role in solving many crimes.

He cited the case of murdered teenager Michelle Buckingham, which was reopened after decades due to the investigative efforts of local journalist Tammy Mills.

Iddles said he is looking forward to life in the slow lane in North Queensland after bowing out this month from the Victoria Police, which had given him “43 great years”.

He saw the legacy of his work with the Police Association as increased awareness of mental health issues, and he urged people in the audience to reach out to someone if they were affected by depression or anxiety.

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