Friday, August 24, 2012

Why is Constable Anthony Francis still a police officer?

A POLICE officer, who epitomises the model of bad behaviour the Queensland Police Service says it wants to root out, has managed to keep his job.

One of the main culprits exposed in an investigation into officer misconduct on the Gold Coast continues to serve after an internal investigation substantiated most of the allegations against him.

The decision has prompted an appeal by the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) and comes as the Newman Government stalls reforms to the police disciplinary process to make way for another review on the eve of the appointment of a new Police Commissioner.

Constable Anthony Richard Francis was one of several officers identified during the 2009-2010 Operation Tesco and was found guilty of improper access to and disclosure of confidential police information, several conflicts of interest, failing to report misconduct by another officer and urinating on a police vehicle he was using as a "blue light taxi" after a boozy night out.

One conflict of interest involving Constable Francis came when he investigated a break and enter of his own house.

Constable Francis was also found guilty of victimisation by giving a "secret Santa" gift to a colleague a can of dog food and a dog bowl.

The term "dog" has been used in the QPS to describe someone who reports suspected misconduct by their colleagues.

An investigation found Constable Francis also colluded with another police officer who has since quit, during Tesco hearings and was the recipient of a text message from her inviting him for a "quiet snort".

But allegations they used cocaine were not substantiated.

The CMC said disciplinary action against Constable Francis, who has since been transferred to Logan uniform branch after being suspended and having his pay docked, was "inadequate and failed to achieve the objectives of the disciplinary process", according to documents lodged in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

It also objected to Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett's decision to reduce the sanction by taking into account "environmental factors of the Gold Coast District" because of Constable Francis' associations with people involved in the Gold Coast nightclub industry.

Mr Barnett, who is one of five applicants shortlisted to succeed Commissioner Bob Atkinson, said circumstances surrounding these matters "mitigate the need to impose the ultimate sanction".

Two police officers identified by the CMC during Operation Tesco have since resigned but Constable Francis was the only one to face disciplinary action.

Another three officers had matters addressed through "management action".


Offences committed by Constable Anthony Richard Francis, formerly of Burleigh Heads CIB

1. Collusion

After Francis received a text message from another police officer (who has since quit) which read: "Hey babe, Just hopping into bed now, can't sleep, wish you were here, would love to have a chat a little giggle and a quiet snort (i probably shouldn't write that in a txt should i!) Hope ur enjoying yourself stay safe sweetie xxx", the couple were overheard discussing the Operation Tesco hearings and the need to get their stories straight. In particular, Francis was heard saying: "Just make sure you snort when you laugh from now on." Allegations of drug use were not substantiated.

2. Conflict of interest

As a recipient of free drinks from a Gold Coast nightclub entrepreneur, Francis then showed favouritism towards the man when his limousine was reported stolen. Despite inquiries revealing the vehicle was the subject of a civil dispute between the man and a third party who leased it, Francis entered a crime report stating the vehicle was "stolen" and returned it.

According to QPS document filed in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), Francis returned the vehicle to the nightclub owner "without complying with Service policy relating to disputed property". Francis was the arresting officer during a raid of a suspected offender as part of the investigation into a break and enter at his own home.

3. Victimisation of another officer

Gave an officer he believed had dobbed on him a can of dog food and dog bowl as a "secret Santa" gift.

4. Public nuisance

Urinated on the back of a police car he was using for his private use after a boozy night out.

5. Misuse of police resources

Took an unmarked police vehicle and collected a female friend and her mother from the airport.

6. Failed to report the suspected misconduct of another officer

7. Improper access to and disclosure of police information

Included checks on his girlfriend at the time, her stepfather and mother; other police officers, including one who had the foresight to have his personal information removed for fear of retribution from criminals he was investigating; a former girlfriend and her sister; and a woman he met at a nightclub after a one-night stand.



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