Queensland police commissioner to front extra hearing of domestic violence inquiry

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Jono Searle/AAP</span>
Photograph: Jono Searle/AAP

Queensland’s police commissioner, Katarina Carroll, will front a domestic violence hearing this week after the state’s commission of inquiry backflipped on a previous decision not to call her to give evidence.

Carroll will appear at the inquiry’s final public hearing on Thursday to discuss the organisation’s capability, capacity and structure to respond to domestic violence, as well as cultural issues within the force.

Queensland’s under treasurer, Leon Allen, will also give evidence about QPS funding models in relation to domestic and family violence.

It comes after Guardian Australia reported criticisms of the commission for not requesting Carroll give evidence at the public hearings, originally scheduled to finish last Tuesday.

Related: ‘Watershed moment’: horror and hope from inquiry into Queensland police

Over the past five weeks, the inquiry has heard several alarming allegations such as officers referring to domestic violence as “foreplay” and reports police did not investigate a woman’s suspicious death because she and her husband were “a pair of scumbags who live in a shit area”.

Asked on Monday why Carroll had now been called to give evidence, and why she wasn’t initially, the commission did not explain its decision.

A spokesperson for the commission said it had “sat for several weeks of hearings in both Brisbane and regional Queensland, which has seen more than 75 witnesses give evidence”, including serving and retired QPS officers, service providers, experts and victim-survivors.

“Evidence has also been heard from a number of First Nations people and service providers regarding QPS responses to domestic and family violence,” they said.

“The commission will not be providing any further comment on the hearings.”

Experts said earlier this month they were baffled the commissioner had not initially been compelled to give evidence.

“Carroll appeared at a budget estimates hearing but hasn’t been asked to appear at the most important inquiry into police culture in the 21st century? It’s just puzzling,” domestic violence policing expert Prof Kerry Carrington said.

“The inquiry in Western Australia into sexual harassment at mines had all the CEOs of big mining companies at that inquiry.”

At the time, a spokesperson for the QPS said the organisation and its commissioner had “provided a significant contribution” to the inquiry and will “fully cooperate” with any future proceedings.

“Witnesses who are requested to participate in the [commission of inquiry] are a matter for the inquiry to determine,” a QPS spokesperson said.

Other people not asked to appear at the inquiry have included Queensland police minister, Mark Ryan, and president of the Queensland Police Union, Ian Leavers.

Related: Queensland officers investigated colleagues from same police station over ‘failure of duty’ allegations

In a statement to the inquiry, submitted on 21 July, Leavers said there was no “widespread cultural problem” in how officers respond to domestic violence incidents.

“There are still unsatisfactory behaviours and attitudes within the service, as would be found in any large organisation,” Leavers wrote.

“Some of the feedback and evidence to this commission of inquiry makes that plain. Importantly though, I suggest that this involves only a very small minority of serving police officers.”

Instances of individual failings and shortcomings were “more likely due to workload pressures or inadequate training” than cultural issues, he said.