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Qld cop harassment complaints every month

Queensland’s police union boss says his members “could be” making sexual harassment complaints about colleagues once a month, but “probably not” once a week.

October 7, 2022
By Marty Silk
7 October 2022

Queensland police union members “could be” making sexual harassment complaints about their colleagues in the force as often as once a month, an inquiry has been told.

Queensland Police Union of Employees president Ian Leavers is giving evidence at a probe into police responses to domestic violence.

Counsel assisting Anna Cappellano asked him on Friday if union members were making sexual harassment complaints about colleagues as frequently as once a month.

“It could be, yes,” Mr Leavers replied. 

Ms Cappellano then asked if new complaints were being made every week.

“No, probably not,” he said.

This week’s hearing has been told multiple female officers have been sexually assaulted, harassed, threatened and bullied.

It has also been told police officers have voiced misogynistic and racist views and there’s a pervasive fear within the force about speaking out.

Earlier on Friday, Mr Leavers said “there is some abhorrent behaviour” and attitudes in the force but only in “small pockets”.

He said most police officers called out bad behaviour by their colleagues.

“What I do say is 98 per cent of the people that I represent are doing the right thing each and every day,” Mr Leavers said.

“I do think it needs to be called out, it needs to be addressed, but we need to dive deeper as to why it is occurring and what can be done as we move into the future.”

He also revealed a female officer who was “very close” to him had been subjected to abusive behaviour by a colleague.

His voice wavered as he spoke about finding out what the male perpetrator said and did.

“At that time I wanted to throttle that person,” Mr Leavers said.

“I’m a law-abiding person. I haven’t done that but it deeply affected me and others, so I’m acutely aware of what takes place.

“But I can say the majority of police are doing the right thing but those people, that behavior, is not acceptable.”

Counsel assisting Ruth O’Gorman asked him about his comments about former Court of Appeal president Margaret McMurdo’s landmark domestic violence report, which called for the inquiry.

In December, Mr Leavers called it “another woke, out-of-touch report” in a radio interview.

He defended his comments as being made in frustration at another potential inquiry when numerous past probes had not led to changes to the system that helped police reduce domestic violence rates.

Judge Deborah Richards asked Mr Leavers if he accepted such language potentially “reinforces views within the police service that are unhelpful”.

“I can accept some of that but I ask you to accept my frustration because I want to fix the broken system,” he said.

“And my intention was never to denigrate women or any other person … I want to fix a broken system which I hope does get fixed.”

The inquiry continues.

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