Slow pace of change: Police misconduct report corrected 12 years after error

As the Crime and Corruption Commission comes under pressure to amend an investigation report, State Parliament has finally dealt with a much older document.

Sep 15, 2021, updated Sep 15, 2021
State Parliament has finally corrected an error in a report tabled 12 years ago. (Supplied)

State Parliament has finally corrected an error in a report tabled 12 years ago. (Supplied)

Speaker Curtis Pitt told parliament on Tuesday it had come to his attention that a recommendation from the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee required a motion to be implemented.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission, as it was then known, had to edit a report on police misconduct.

The 2016 recommendation related to a report into police misconduct, arising from Operation Capri. That investigation was conducted by the Crime and Misconduct Commission, now known as the CCC, and the report released in July 2009.

The PCCC had found that a police officer was denied procedural fairness and the opportunity to respond to allegations made against him in the report. It recommended the CMC acknowledge the fact in an edited report and, because its report had already been tabled in parliament, the Legislative Assembly take steps to also correct the error.

It is understood an administrative error left the implementation of the recommendation unfinalised.

Acting on the advice from Pitt, Leader of the House Yvette D’Ath passed a motion that the tabled CMC report be amended as recommended by the PCCC.

The motion was passed, without the need for a vote, and the matter dealt with in less than a minute. It came immediately before debate began on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, and shortly before the PCCC met to discuss a more recent bid to change a CCC report.

Human Rights Commissioner Scott McDougall has been pushing for the CCC to amend its report on police recruiting practices to add his commentary.

In May, after finalising Investigation Arista into the Queensland Police Service, the CCC released a report that outlined how a 50 per cent gender equity target was miscommunicated to staff who then actively discriminated against would-be male recruits in an effort to succeed.

But McDougall argued that the CCC failed to consider there may have been a lawful basis for the recruitment strategy and appeared to have exaggerated the number of men discriminated against, and the impact of its findings on the women recruited.

He suggested the evidence did not point to unlawful discrimination, as the CCC claimed, but rather actions taken in good faith to implement a justifiable strategy to recruit more women.

“The report notes that the CCC decided to issue a public report in this matter because of the ‘systemic and serious nature of the conduct’,” McDougall wrote in his letter to CCC Chairman Alan MacSporran.

“In light of the conspicuous failure of the report to properly consider the potential lawfulness of measures forming a core part of the ‘system’, I respectfully consider it is incumbent on the CCC to review its findings and recommendations and public an addendum to the report.”

MacSporran has refused to make any such changes, and the issue is now being considered by the PCCC. It held a private meeting yesterday and the Palaszczuk government is believed to support McDougall’s push for formal recognition of his concerns.

Documents released overnight by the PCCC show MacSporran previously telling McDougall – in a letter copied to Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll – that the investigation was thorough. He refused to make any changes to the report and told McDougall, and also Carroll, that if any agency had an obligation to consult the Human Rights Commission on such matters it was the QPS.

“There is no doubt that the matters revealed by this investigation may serve to undermine confidence in legitimate, reasoned and properly effected gender equity strategies – particularly within the QPS,” MacSporran wrote.

“That is highly undesirable. Had the QPS sought advice and assistance from an external agency with appropriate expertise such as yours, it is entirely likely that this process would have gone differently.”

MacSporran, early in his term of chairman, had also dealt with the aftermath of Operation Capri and the PCCC’s call for that report to be edited.

The PCCC on Tuesday approved the release of tabling of two CCC reports but sent another back to the agency because of mistakes.

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