State’s police facing disciplinary overhaul
QUEENSLAND'S police discipline system will undergo its biggest overhaul in decades after new laws are introduced into state parliament today.
Police Minister Mark Ryan said the sweeping changes would speed up internal investigations, improve oversight, "modernise sanctions" and create a new disciplinary unit within police headquarters.
"Over the years the police discipline system has been subject to a number of reviews which have been critical of timeliness and consistency, meaning that confidence in the system by police and the community needed improvement," Mr Ryan said.
The raft of changes stem from an 18-month Crime and Corruption Commission review completed in late 2017 and follows repeated calls from the Police Union for a system focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment.
Police Union president Ian Leavers said the reforms were a "great step forward" as officers would no longer be dragged through drawn-out investigations or face having their salary reduced as punishment.
"The hallmark of any organisation is how they treat their staff," Mr Leavers said.
"And it is true to say that under the old punitive police discipline system, often police themselves were made to feel like criminals by their superiors, particularly when in 99.9 per cent of cases police have done nothing wrong."
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said the new system would be less adversarial and encourage officers to take responsibility for their actions.
"The public can rest assured that changes are not being made to a person's ability to report officer misbehaviour or misconduct, and the Bill improves current processes after complaints are received," he said.
Under the Bill, investigations would have to be completed and proceedings commenced against an officer within 12 months of any alleged misconduct.
If a complaint is made outside of the 12-month window, investigators would have six months to commence proceedings against an officer.
The CCC will also become involved in matters at an earlier stage and handed extra powers to apply for a review of any decision.
Officers found guilty of misconduct will face a range of new sanctions and a maximum fine of about $6500. Penalties for officers found guilty of disciplinary matters will include suspension without pay for up to 12 months, probation, demotion and community service.
The new penalties will replace salary reductions.
The Bill also includes powers for the Police Commissioner to create a central disciplinary unit responsible for conducting hearings to substantiate findings from an investigation.
The unit will operate separately to the Ethical Standards Command, which is responsible for managing and investigating complaints.