Queensland Police Union rejects independent integrity unit proposal, Commissioner Katarina Carroll seeks public’s ‘faith’

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll says a damning report into police culture and failures in responses to domestic violence is a “dark day” for the service and has pleaded with the community to have “faith” in her leadership.

Commissioner Carroll has the backing of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to stay in her job, despite 78 recommendations made by Judge Deborah Richards in her report following a three-month Commission of Inquiry into police handling of domestic and family violence.

The report, released by the premier on Monday, found that a “failure of the leadership” had allowed a toxic culture of sexism, misogyny and racism to fester in the police service for years.

Speaking to ABC Radio Brisbane on Tuesday morning, Commissioner Carroll said the report drew a “line in the sand” and she was committed to fast-tracking reforms that were interrupted during the pandemic.

“I ask that you have faith in us … that we will deliver this, and as a result you will get not only an organization that is reforming or reformed, but will transform,” she said.

Commissioner Carroll reiterated an apology to those affected by the entrenched failures.

“Victims internally and externally have been let down, and I have apologized and I’ll apologize again for letting those people down,” she said.

Commissioner Carroll welcomed the short timeframes set out in the report for the implementation of many of the 78 recommendations. She said the deadlines of six or 12 months would allow her to “hone in” on needed reforms with the support of an additional $100 million committed by the premier.

Union rejects integrity unit

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers agreed with most of the recommendations, except for those 68 to 73, which related to the state government establishing an independent integrity unit.

“What we do have is the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC), which is a standing royal commission … and they have a role to play,” he said.

Ian Leavers speaks to the press.
Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers.(ABC News: Buzz Ruddick)

Mr Leavers said the discipline system already in place is “good” but has been “maladministered”.

“Some people have been asleep at the wheel, so don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” he said.

Mr Leavers said the police officers who were doing the wrong thing had no place in the service.

“The misogynist, the sexist behavior and the racism, there is no place for them in the police,” he said.

“But what I will say for the 98 percent of police who are doing a great job each and every day, the commissioner needs to come out and back them because it’s been left wanting.

“And that’s the feeling among the police across the state of Queensland.”

The CCC released a statement saying the success of the proposed integrity unit would be “dependent on several factors” but would “require all stakeholders to work effectively together”.

“It is critical moving forward that there is a focus on building confidence and trust in the handling of police complaints for both the community and the police,” the statement said.

Leadership is responsible, AG says

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman told ABC Radio Brisbane that she, the police commissioner, the premier, and Police Minister Mark Ryan all took responsibility for the report’s scathing findings.

No police officer or minister has resigned or been sacked over the findings.

“The culture that exists within the Queensland Police Service is obviously something that has happened over decades,” Ms Fentiman said.

“The responsibility now for ministers and the premier and the cabinet is to make sure that these recommendations from the commission of inquiry – that will transform this service – are implemented and are funded.”

‘It’s racism’: Former commissioner

In responding to the report, former Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Mick Gooda said “every time we call out racism, anywhere, we’re told we’re wrong”.

“We’ve known in our hearts that it’s racism and here is a report here confirming that,” he said.

Mick Gooda
Mick Gooda believes Commissioner Carroll is the right person to bring reform to the Queensland Police Service.(AAP: Alan Porritt)

In response to Mr Leavers’ remark that 98 per cent of the police were doing the right thing, Mr Gooda said the police union needed to stand with those police officers and call out the bad behaviour.

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