Friday, May 12, 2017

Police officer ‘disciplined’ for sharing address of domestic violence victim

A QUEENSLAND cop who used the official police database to share a Gold Coast mum’s home address with her former husband who was bound by a restraining order – and then joked about it – has avoided the sack.

Almost nine months after The Courier-Mail revealed the shocking allegations, an internal affairs police investigation has determined Brisbane Senior Constable Neil Punchard should receive “disciplinary sanctions”, but it is understood he was not suspended.

The terrified woman, who has been forced to move house, said she was disgusted by the decision and has now appealed to the ­Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee to review the case. She has also sought an ­urgent meeting with State MP Shannon Fentiman, the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence.

The Ethical Standards Command investigation ruled that the allegations against Sen-Constable Punchard were substantiated and imposed “disciplinary sanctions”, but in a statement refused to tell The Courier-Mail what those sanctions were.

After learning the woman’s address, Sen-Constable Punchard joked with his mate via text message about how she would “flip out” when she discovered she had been tracked down.

It comes just a week after another police officer, caught using the QPRIME database to look up netball star Laura Geitz out of curiosity, pleaded guilty to computer hacking charges and was fined $4000.

The Gold Coast mother-of-three whose file was ­accessed by Sen-Constable Punchard said it beggared belief that the two officers received such vastly different punishments.

“How is it that an officer can look up a netball player and get criminally charged and another who has completely betrayed my trust is not subjected to further investigation?” she said.

“He should be facing criminal charges.  “I feel like the safety of myself and my family is now at risk.”

Ms Fentiman said no one deserved to have their privacy and safety threatened.  “Any breach of trust by someone tasked with protecting domestic violence victims is completely unacceptable,” she said.

Senior cop says QPS 'failing Queensland'

A SENIOR officer has called for a sweeping inquiry into the Queensland Police Service, saying gross management failures have left criminals laughing and police too scared to do their jobs.

Senior Sergeant Phil Notaro has apologised to Queenslanders, saying the police service is failing them but managers, not officers on the beat, are to blame.

He says morale in the service is lower now than during the Fitzgerald Inquiry, and it’s time the government opened a broad-ranging inquiry to stop the rot coming from the top down.

“I think we need an inquiry into mismanagement by the QPS hierarchy. The leaders of the organisation have to be held accountable, because we are failing the people of Queensland,” Snr Sgt Notaro writes in the Queensland Police Union journal.

He said a restructure of the service had been a dismal failure and had not achieved any of its objectives.

“What were once police districts with a District officer have now become merely patrol groups that are totally leaderless. The bosses have lost contact with the frontline,” he wrote.

He says the restructure’s only success was to save the government money, after more than 100 experienced officers took redundancy packages. Snr Sgt Notaro also savaged Queensland’s pursuit policy, saying it’s given criminals “a green light to do what they please when they please without fear of retribution”.

Asked about the stinging criticism, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the restructure referred to by Snr Sgt Notaro happened under the former state government.

“I think if he does have those concerns, he should refer them to the CCC (Crime and Corruption Commission Queensland),” the premier told the Nine Network.

“I’ve been right across this state speaking to police officers and honestly, they have had a lot of opportunities to speak to me about that if that was their concern.”

Snr Sgt Notaro’s comments echo those of the Queensland Police Union, which has railed against the no-pursuits policy, claiming it has made Queensland roads more dangerous.

“The current no-pursuits policy in Queensland has been a complete disaster. Police are no longer allowed to pursue offenders which means criminals have the green light to run from police,” acting union president Shayne Maxwell said in January.

Snr Sgt Notaro also attacked the police service’s discipline system, saying it can take up to four years to resolve cases against officers.

Police don’t have enough vehicles, and a crackdown on access to information, led by Police Commissioner Ian Stewart, was seeing police charged with offences such as computer hacking, he said.  “We are now told we should not be curious. Every check we do may be scrutinised,” he said.

Snr Sgt Notaro said police were frustrated and too scared to do their job. “All I can say to the people of Queensland is ‘sorry’. We at the coal face are doing all we can. We at the union are doing all we can. But someone needs to be held accountable,” he wrote.

“I don’t see there is any choice (but to hold another inquiry). The QPS has been mismanaged and it’s falling down around us.”

QPS Commissioner Ian Stewart is scheduled to address the claims in a media conference at 2pm.