Thursday, February 11, 2010

The police minister finally finds his voice

I did recently wonder on this blog what had become of him

THE crisis engulfing Queensland Police has deepened with the Bligh Government accusing the service of undermining public confidence by taking too long to investigate themselves.

In a stinging rebuke, Police Minister Neil Roberts yesterday attacked the service for failures in the police ethical standards unit following widespread concerns over delays with investigations. "The delays have the potential to not only undermine public confidence in our police but also negatively impact on individual officers' careers," he said.

The comments came as a new report showed Queensland Police had failed to complete most of the improvements called for by the state's corruption watchdog almost two years ago after it found the Gold Coast ranks were riddled with corruption.

The confidential QPS progress report, tabled in Parliament, showed only 15 of the 36 CMC recommendations had been implemented since April 2008 when Project Grinspoon found officers on the Glitter Strip using drugs, compromising investigations and associating with criminals.

The 20 "in-progress" but unfinished recommendations included identifying staff with a higher integrity risk such as detectives and undercover officers, identifying gaps in ethical training and increasing and improving drug and alcohol testing.

The revelations come after The Courier-Mail reported yesterday the scandal embroiling the Gold Coast had spread to the Sunshine Coast, where officers were being investigated after allegedly accepting free drinks and using their official ID to avoid nightclub cover charges.

The Project Grinspoon progress report showed the QPS had made significant progress in many of the 20 still-unfinished recommendations, some of which had required co-operation with the CMC.

Incomplete recommendations included using disciplinary reports findings in management training, reviewing police diaries and tightening the monitoring of inappropriate internet and email use. Another recommendation had still not received QPS support but required discussion with the union.

Details of the recommendations emerged after Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said last week almost of all of them had been implemented. "Most of them, or almost all of them, were implemented," he had said. "In some cases, recommendations haven't been completed because of the sheer nature of the undertaking and the extensive, long-term nature of it."

Mr Roberts last night defended the delays, insisting Mr Atkinson was referring to the fact that many of the unfinished recommendations were close to being completed.

On Mr Roberts' criticisms of the delays in ethical standards commands investigations, Mr Atkinson agreed. "The process does take too long," he said. "There are a number of reasons for this including the legalistic, adversarial nature of the process."

The Commissioner said he was hopeful a CMC review into the police disciplinary process, due to report by June 30, would speed up the process.


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