Former detective tells inquiry Queensland police recruits are taught how to avoid making domestic violence orders

Former detective tells inquiry Queensland police recruits are taught how to avoid making domestic violence orders

Some police recruits learn how to “take shortcuts” to avoid making domestic violence orders and corresponding paperwork within six months of leaving the academy, an inquiry has been told.

The Independent Commission of Inquiry into Queensland Police Service (QPS) Responses to Domestic and Family Violence today heard evidence from consultant and former detective Mark Ainsworth during a sitting in Brisbane.

As part of the inquiry, Mr Ainsworth interviewed more than 50 police officers to determine whether “cultural” issues within the QPS were negatively impacting how they respond and investigate domestic and family violence cases.

Mr Ainsworth was a police officer for nearly four decades and involved in several major inquiries, including the Fitzgerald Inquiry in the 1980s, the Allison Baden-Clay murder investigation in 2014 and the 2011 Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry.

Counsel assisting Ruth O’Gorman questioned Mr Ainsworth about a “culture of fearfulness” by officers in attending domestic violence (DV) matters that were leading to “insufficient” investigations.

Mark Ainsworth says the scrutiny of DV responses by officers has “increased dramatically.” (abcnews)

The inquiry heard one officer told Mr Ainsworth that within six months new police recruits “learnt how to manipulate aggrieved persons at DV matters in order to avoid doing DV orders”.

The same officer said recruits were taught by senior personnel “how to take shortcuts and avoid the frustrations of completing voluminous amounts of paperwork”.

The officer told Mr Ainsworth he believed “that culture of doing the bare minimum might be a coping mechanism to deal with being overworked and DV-fatigued”.

“I’d say almost 98 to 99 per cent of officers [interviewed] used that terminology of ‘DV fatigued’,” Mr Ainsworth said.

He told the inquiry other officers reported colleagues responding to call outs with the attitude of, ‘How can I write this off?’ as they were “facing pressure from their supervisors to get the job done and move on”.

One officer told Mr Ainsworth there was “such a concern” over whether DV cases were being properly investigated that he had “mandated reviewing of body-worn camera by his officers to ensure appropriate action had been taken”.

One senior officer with three decades of experience told Mr Ainsworth he had never seen police “so fearful of making mistakes”.

“Police are attending multiple DVs [incidents] in a shift … a couple of officers mentioned they could start a … two to 10[pm shift] and there could be two to three DV matters backed up that the previous crew hadn’t done, so there’s pressure to get to those matters, to deal with them and move onto the others,” Mr Ainsworth told the inquiry.

He said officers also reported a “lack of respect” towards women and other aggrieved people in domestic and family violence cases, with “prettier” victims “given more attention from police than others.”

‘Police see DV as a burden’

He told the inquiry that because of their “convoluted nature”, some police tried to avoid domestic violence call-outs “at all costs”.

“The convoluted nature they were referring to was the administrative side, the … photocopying of materials, signing it, scanning it, getting it to the courts,” he said.

Queensland Police Service logo on shoulder sleeve of officer's shirt.
Officers regularly attend multiple DV call-outs in a shift.(ABC News: Chris Gillette)

Mr Ainsworth said there was an “extreme level of frustration” by officers over a lack of resourcing to properly investigate domestic and family violence.

The inquiry heard one senior constable reported to Mr Ainsworth that “some officers shut their eyes as much as they can because if they don’t see the evidence, they don’t have to deal with it”.

Another officer told him that “police see DV as a burden, they will roll their eyes, try to avoid investigating DV properly, or constantly whinge, ‘Not another DV’.

“That was largely due to the time-consuming nature [of responding to incidents],” Mr Ainsworth told the inquiry.

Mr Ainsworth told the inquiry the majority of officers interviewed believed the culture of police officers in addressing DFV was “worsening” over time.

The inquiry heard several officers believed DFV matters required a “whole-of-community” response.

A senior sergeant in a country station told Mr Ainsworth “he firmly believes that DV is not a police responsibility to try and solve [as] police didn’t join the service to be social workers”.

Almost 100 per cent of interviewees told Mr Ainsworth the “whole system” needs to be reviewed and streamlined to address cultural issues within the QPS, to achieve better outcomes for victims.

The QPS will not comment on specific issues raised during the hearings but has committed to work with the inquiry to “ensure that organizational values, standards of practice and responsibilities are being maintained and, where the opportunity arises, enhanced”.

Public hearings will continue in Brisbane tomorrow, with the inquiry to hand down its final report in October.

.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.