Friday, August 27, 2010

Just about anyone can become a cop in Queensland

QUEENSLAND Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson yesterday conceded recruitment standards for the police academy had been watered down. This had happened over recent years as the service competed with lucrative offers from the mining sector for rookies.

Announcing sweeping measures to tackle police misconduct, Mr Atkinson said the mining boom and higher levels of attrition had forced a lowering in the recruitment standards, which are now under a formal review, to be completed within the next month.

The reforms follow a 10-month Crime and Misconduct Commission investigation of Gold Coast police that has, so far, led to the suspension of three junior officers and a senior constable facing property and firearms charges. It is understood some of the officers were under suspicion for misconduct at the police academy.

The CMC will next month hold a public inquiry as part of the investigation, codenamed Operation Tesco, which probed allegations that officers were drinking for free at nightclubs and turning a blind eye to the flourishing drug trade. The investigation found no evidence of any widespread corruption or involvement by police in the drug trade, although there have been "pockets" of misconduct by some officers.

Mr Atkinson said the reforms were drafted in consultation with the CMC and would target the entire 10,000-strong service, with a boost in resources and supervision. "A particular focus has been placed on improving supervision, and creating clear policy around gratuities, including free drinks at licensed premises, inappropriate associations, use of police vehicles and access and use of confidential information,"

Mr Atkinson has been criticised by the CMC over his handling of two now discredited investigations into the 2004 death in custody of Palm Islander Mulrunji Doomadgee and falling supervision by senior officers that led to officers' misuse of tasers and misconduct with prisoners.

The reforms propose greater training for senior police in supervisory roles, a boost in the numbers of Ethical Standard Command police and a new policy on "inappropriate associations".


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