One Queensland police officer threatened to rape his female colleague, while another put his penis on a female colleague’s desk, an inquiry has heard.
The graphic details emerged on Wednesday as part of a laundry list of evidence heard at a state inquiry into responses by Queensland police to domestic and family violence, as well as the force’s workplace culture. On each occasion, incidents were responded to with “local management resolution” and allowed some now-high-ranking officers to ascend through the ranks unpunished.
Among them was an officer who the inquiry heard had called colleagues “towel heads” and “Osama”, sent porn to his colleagues, and stuck a picture of a woman wearing swimwear on fridges around his police stations, captioned, “tap and go”.
The officer was then promoted to another station, where he managed even more staff.
Appearing at the inquiry to give evidence, Queensland police commissioner Katarina Carroll admitted the female officers involved in the maelstrom of incidents detailed should have been treated better, and condemned each of the incidents as evidence flooded the hearing.
The Queensland Police Service received more than 1,600 complaints between 2020 and 2022 that ranged from misogyny and sexism to homophobia, and various other forms of bullying and harassment, the inquiry heard.
In their submissions to the inquiry, various women said they feared they couldn’t report bad behaviour for fears of losing their jobs, or that they’d be branded “a dog”.
At the hearing on Wednesday, Ruth O’Gorman KC, counsel assisting the inquiry, detailed a throng of incidents reported to the inquiry by several officers. In one of them, a male officer was heard to have menaced his female manager after being denied a senior role.
“She is nothing but a cunt, and if she doesn’t give me a relieving role, I’m going to punch her in the cunt,” the officer told a group of his colleagues, the inquiry heard.
In another instance, the inquiry heard that one constable was left unpunished after harassing younger female officers. The targeted harassment included threats to break into their homes, and even rape them, after they denied his efforts to come onto them.
This particular officer’s behaviour went unreported, even though the incidents were no secret among his colleagues, the inquiry heard, much to the disappointment of Carroll, who told the inquiry that it is “extraordinarily unacceptable”.
Another section of evidence heard by the inquiry involved one officer, who targeted a female colleague and repeatedly sent her unsolicited photos of his penis, and even a video of him masturbating. O’Gorman said it was “concerning”.
“On one occasion whilst at work, he approached that female sergeant with his penis protruding out from his jeans,” O’Gorman said.
“He asked if he should attend a meeting with the inspector in that way and then feigned getting his penis stuck in the drawer of a filing cabinet,” she said.
“[He] then placed it on her desk in front of her—he placed his penis on her desk.”
After the incident was raised to a disciplinary hearing, that officer was demoted for 12 months. The female officer, though, was also disciplined by the police.
“She now has a disciplinary history on her record because this man gets his penis out in front of her at work and subjects her to other sexual conduct, which she doesn’t complain about. I think we’ve agreed now that there are many good reasons why women might not [report such events],” O’Gorman said.
Carroll admitted it was wrong.
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