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Police promise to co-operate with domestic violence royal commission


Queensland police will “fully co-operate” with a royal commission into their responses to domestic violence with a top cop admitting they have not always got things right.

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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk ordered a commission of inquiry on Tuesday in line with recommendations from the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce, led by former Court of Appeal president Margaret McMurdo.

The terms of reference and the person to lead the four-month investigation will be revealed on Wednesday.

Acting Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski says the force is committed to supporting victims and holding perpetrators to account, but improvements can be made.

“The QPS responds to most DFV incidents very effectively, however we acknowledge there have been some instances where we have not got it right and our organisation welcomes the opportunity to learn and improve,” he told AAP in a statement on Wednesday.

“Responding to incidents of DFV is often challenging and complex.

“The inquiry is an opportunity for us to understand and reflect on what we can do, within our service, to better protect victims of DFV.”

Palaszczuk said on Tuesday the inquiry would examine “police practices”, and would hear the testimony of victims and make recommendations to improve their treatment. She would not confirm if it would look at cultural issues.

The Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce report called for a royal commission into the “widespread and negative culture within the QPS”, which they said was undermining police responses to domestic violence.

Justice McMurdo’s report said officers were still responding to cases as individual incidents, focusing on physical violence, and misjudging high-risk situations.

In some cases police did not believe a victim reporting abuse, colluded with manipulative perpetrators, did not properly investigate or did not disclose or mitigate conflicts of interest in cases involving officers.

Police had also misidentified some victims as perpetrators, the report said, and lacked the cultural ability to deal with cases involving Indigenous people.

“Some police officers’ perceptions of victims are shaped by negative attitudes and beliefs about women and domestic and family violence, as well as stereotypes about how a ‘real victim’ should look and act,” Justice McMurdo wrote in the report.

“This contributes to negative culture, values, and beliefs across the QPS and undermines the efforts of the QPS leadership team and other officers to improve responses to domestic and family violence.

The Queensland government has also promised to introduce a bill to criminalise coercive control by the end of 2023.

Coercive control includes isolating a partner from family and friends, monitoring their movements, controlling their access to money and psychological and emotional manipulation.

That form of abuse disproportionately affects women in Queensland.

The government has also allocated $363 million to expand domestic violence courts, boost support services, plan a First Nations strategy and fund perpetrator programs “to change men’s behaviour”.

Police teams and co-responder programs with domestic violence services will be expanded, and education programs in schools will receive extra funding.

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