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Top cop's tears as she recalls 'attack by sexual predator' in officer's rape attempt


Queensland’s highest-ranking police officer has detailed being subjected to sexual harassment and sexism early in her career as the service’s culture comes under scrutiny.

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Commissioner Katarina Carroll was visibly emotional during her second day of evidence at Queensland’s inquiry into the police response to domestic violence.

This week’s hearings have been told of incidents of behaviour directed at female officers that Ms Carroll previously described as “disgusting, predatory and unacceptable”.

On Thursday, Ms Carroll said she subjected to similar behaviour by more senior officers on a number of occasions in the 1980s and 1990s.

The most serious incident involved being attacked by a “sexual predator” when she was taken to a forest and had her seatbelt removed before she ran back to her station.

“I just wanted to say that my station protected me,” Ms Carroll told the inquiry.

Other incidents included being “pinched on the arse” as well as being told she was taking the job of a male officer and was going to fail.

Ms Carroll said she chose to report some incidents but not others when she felt she was protected by the people in her station.

Processes for reporting bullying and sexual harassment have been a focus of the inquiry, as a culture of fear of speaking out is laid out.

Counsel assisting the inquiry Ruth O’Gorman told Thursday’s hearing about the experiences of one female officer detailed as part of a review provided to leadership in 2018.

She said she knew of five incidents in which women had been raped and didn’t know of any policewoman “who has not been offended against”.

The woman’s story included being subjected to unwanted touching and kissing and being called a sl*t and a lesbian.

The review helped establish Juniper – a unit designed to tackle issues of culture and gender within the force that was later rebranded after being described as “a toothless tiger”.

It was replaced by two operational units within the police.

Ms Carroll agreed sexism and misogyny were prevalent, of concern and consistent in particular teams, stations and districts.

She agreed a system often used to determine consequences for those at the centre of complaints, known as a local managerial resolution, was broken.

The inquiry is also investigating incidents of racism within Queensland police.

Ms Carroll said she had heard a recording of a sergeant at the police academy, charged with teaching new recruits, saying the words “you can smell them before you see them”.

The commissioner said the sergeant had also mentioned a town, and agreed the inference was that she was referring to Indigenous people.

Ms Carroll described the actions as “extraordinarily disturbing” and “absolutely horrific”.

“Listening to it was horrific,” she said.

“That sergeant is not living by the values of the organisation and should not be in that role.”

The officer has now been moved to a different role, the inquiry was told.

Ms O’Gorman detailed several incidents where officers reportedly used racist slurs to describe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“It has been brought to my attention, obviously, and it’s absolutely disgusting,” Ms Carroll said.

She agreed there is “definitely racism in the QPS” and it’s an issue that must be dealt with.

Resourcing in the service’s domestic and family violence command, led by Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd, has also been a point of focus on Thursday.

Ms Carroll agreed the command was “in some ways” under resourced and said she was committed to improvement.

“I’ve already asked (Mr Codd), anything you want, and nothing’s come back to me,” she said.

The inquiry continues.

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