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Top cop vows reform after damning report into police culture

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Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll has denied deficiencies in the force’s domestic violence response were swept under the carpet under her tenure.

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The Queensland Police Service will be restructured after a major report on Monday found its “inconsistent” and “inadequate” response had left victims unprotected and perpetrators emboldened.

However, Carroll will keep her job even though the report found “a failure of leadership” had fostered a culture of sexism and racism and misogyny in the QPS.

“We have been looking at these issues over the last few years and we knew there were issues and we have not swept this under the carpet,” she told Seven’s Sunrise program on Tuesday.

“You will see a lot happen, a lot of transform and reform in the next few months and years.”

Later, in the ABC interview, Carroll blamed Covid-19 for hindering her reform plans since she took over in 2019, saying this time it will be different.

“We had to stop, we had to start, we had to stop and start, and this really inhibited some of the reforms,” she told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

“But as I said … with the recommendations and with the substantial money and resources coming with it, I am very confident that this report will be expedited.”

Judge Deborah Richards’ report, which followed a three month long Commission of Inquiry, also found the QPS had not trained officers properly or provided enough resources for domestic violence policing.

“The impact can be significant. Negative experiences can leave victim-survivors and their children unprotected and unlikely to seek police assistance again in the future, and perpetrators emboldened,” the report said.

“The difficulty is that many do experience a negative response from police and that, overall, police responses continue to be inconsistent and, at times, inadequate.”

Judge Richards said the culture of sexism, racism and misogyny was a significant problem within the QPS, and “these are not just a few bad apples”.

While Carroll agreed there were people who had let down victims and the community, good officers in the 17,500 strong force had been “tarred”.

“This is a dark time for the organisation, and we do need to reform and we do need to keep serving our community and get on with this,” she told Seven.

Richards had criticised Carroll for her lack of reform to deal with cultural and structural problems since taking the role in 2019.

“It is a failure of the leadership of the organisation that this situation has been allowed to continue over many years unchecked,” she wrote.

Richards made 78 recommendations to restructure the QPS including more training, more officers and resources for domestic violence policing, hiring more liaison officers for domestic violence, First Nations and LGBTQI communities.

She also called for a new unit in the Crime and Corruption Commission to probe all police complaints, and for a domestic violence victims’ commissioner to review victims’ complaints.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has backed Carroll and her deputy Steve Gollschewski to oversee structural and cultural reform within the force.

“This is going to be confronting and it is going to take every ounce of her strength to bring about all of this reform, and I am confident that she is the right person to do it,” Palaszczuk said.

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