Qld govt ambivalent about police watchdog

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The Queensland Government is ambivalent about a new police watchdog recommended in a scathing report on police culture and domestic violence.

A commission of inquiry on Monday called for a restructuring of the Queensland Police Service to address its “inadequate” and “inconsistent” policing of domestic violence.

Judge Deborah Richards’ report said a “culture of fear and silence” had fostered sexism, racism and misogyny within the force.

He detailed instances of bullying, harassment, abuse and assault in the QPS with victims afraid to speak up and perpetrators lightly disciplined by colleagues.

Justice Richards recommended the creation of a new independent Integrity Unit to deal with all complaints involving the police.

Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk is ambivalent about a new watchdog, saying a new public sector complaints “clearinghouse” is planned in line with Coaldrake’s integrity report earlier this year.

“So of course we will look at all of these reviews that Peter Coaldrake has had, these recommendations, and then of course the government will put in the resources,” she told reporters on Wednesday.

The prime minister said police watchdog the Ethics Standards Command was considering hiring more psychologists to help people file complaints against the police.

When asked if there would be civilians in a new Integrity Unit, she said it would be reviewed by Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski and former Queensland General Constable Linda Appelt, who was appointed to oversee the restructuring of the QPS.

National Liberal Party police spokesman Dale Last said the domestic violence policing report found police numbers had dropped by 12, a claim the government has rebuffed.

Mr Last said he doubted the government would adopt Judge Richards’ 78 recommendations and called for consequences if it did not.

“It’s crucial, there are lives that depend on the implementation of these recommendations,” Mr Last told reporters.

“Women and children will die if this is not implemented in Queensland, and we want to know, I want to know, the people of Queensland want to know, what is this minister doing about it.”

Police Minister Mark Ryan said the opposition was relying on point-in-time data which did not take into account officers on furlough or furlough.

He said police numbers were growing above an attrition rate of between four and five percent.

In the 2020/21 financial year, 326 left QPS and 443 graduated from the academy, Mr Ryan said.

The following year, 465 officers left and 608 graduated.

“I’ve been told the pipeline of upcoming recruits is the strongest in nearly two years,” he said.

Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll admitted that police departments nationwide are trying to manage manpower issues.

“We’re in the same boat, we’re all trying to recruit,” she said.

“A lot of us actually try to poach each other.”

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