Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Queensland police banned from free burgers, doughnuts

POLICE will be banned from accepting free or discounted burgers and doughnuts under new anti-corruption reforms threatening to cause divisions within the force.

The Queensland Police Service will activate a revamped gratuities policy on July 1, but the police union is preparing to help officers circumvent it. The Courier-Mail understands the draft policy bans free or discounted fast-food and alcoholic drinks at bars inside an officer's jurisdiction. It also bans "blue-light taxis" where police cars are used to give free lifts to colleagues.

The reforms follow a Crime and Misconduct Commission investigation into allegations Gold Coast police did favours for nightclub staff, who gave them free drinks and entry. Current arrangements allow police to pay half-price at McDonalds, KFC, Hungry Jacks, Subway, Coffee Club, Gloria Jeans, and many local food shops. Free alcohol is also given to officers at various bars and many independent retailers give away items for free.

The union has vowed to side-step the ban by creating a union shopper-card that gives about 10,000 police the same deals.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers yesterday denied long-standing gratuities from retailers were problematic. "Discounts available for members of organisations, such as the Law Society and the Bar Association, are provided under exactly the same principle as those which we may be able to organise," he said.

The plan to ban all gratuities was applauded by a Griffith University police ethics expert, Professor Tim Prenzler. "Gratuities are about buying the police and that's why they're offered," Dr Prenzler said. "We know this from surveys and interviews." Dr Prenzler called for the union's proposed shopper-cards to only be used when police were off-duty or not in uniform.

The policy is still being finalised by police Ethical Standards Command. "The service is developing policy on gratuities, and will consider any position taken by the union, and respond appropriately in accordance with legislation and policy," a QPS spokeswoman said.

Previous studies have shown the public opposes police accepting gratuities because of real or perceived favouritism. The New York Police Department recently banned all gratuities, because it deemed the arrangements problematic.

Currently, Queensland police must declare any gift they receive worth $20 or more. It is believed that threshold will not be lowered.

The police watchdog, the Crime and Misconduct Commission, uncovered unethical practices by Gold Coast police during Operation Tesco in 2009 and 2010. The investigation cleared the wider police force of corruption but identified "systemic organisational issues".


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is why these people (Cut price businesses) don't get caught when they break the Law we in the street call it Arselicking.