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You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases Media releases — 6 July 2010 – 29 June 2011 Police ethics survey validates focus of QPS reform — 09.11.2010
You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases Media releases — 6 July 2010 – 29 June 2011 Police ethics survey validates focus of QPS reform — 09.11.2010
You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases Media releases — 6 July 2010 – 29 June 2011 Police ethics survey validates focus of QPS reform — 09.11.2010

Police ethics survey validates focus of QPS reform — 09.11.2010

A Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) report, released today, urges the Queensland Police Service (QPS) to ensure ethics training is provided to all police officers throughout their careers — not just recruits.

The call forms part of a 158-page report that analyses police ethics surveys undertaken by recruits and first year constables (FYCs) over a 14-year period, from 1995 to 2008. It stresses the need for comprehensive and ongoing ethics training that emphasises the seriousness of all improper behaviour by police, at the same time raising awareness of and compliance with QPS policies and legislative obligations.

CMC Assistant Commissioner, Misconduct, Warren Strange says the report’s advice is particularly salient given the ‘clearest pattern’ to emerge from the findings is a marked difference between recruits and FYCs across all areas of the survey.

‘As the research suggests, within one year of joining the police service, the ethical standards of officers may start to decline and their attitudes towards various aspects of the organisation may start to become negative,’ Mr Strange said.

The CMC report entitled The ethical perceptions and attitudes of Queensland Police Service recruits and first year constables 1995–2008, underlines several positive developments over time — notably, a majority view that improper behaviour by police is ‘serious and inexcusable’, with relatively few respondents accepting possible justifications.

However, it also raises concern about widespread reluctance among recruits and FYCs to formally report misconduct to the QPS or the CMC. Under the Police Service Administration Act, any QPS officer (including a recruit) who ‘knows or reasonably suspects’ that misconduct has occurred is obliged to report this to the Police Commissioner and the CMC Chairperson.

Of the recruits and FYCs surveyed, around half said they would not report to the QPS an officer who (hypothetically) steals confiscated drugs from police property and sells them on the street. Similarly, just over half of the FYCs and over a third of recruits said they would not report this behaviour to the CMC. Altogether, 15 per cent of recruits and around a quarter of FYCs said they would not report this behaviour to either agency.

Although an increasing number indicated their willingness to take some action in response to the bulk of 12 misconduct scenarios in the survey, most often this involved informal action, such as talking to a senior officer or the officer concerned.

The findings also reveal the majority of recruits and FYCs believe whistleblowers are likely to be ostracised by their peers. Over two-thirds of recruits and 80 per cent of FYCs agreed that an officer who reports misconduct is likely to be ‘given the cold shoulder’.

Mr Strange says the police ethics survey — first conducted in 1995, as part of the then Criminal Justice Commission’s review of the QPS’s implementation of Fitzgerald Inquiry recommendations — remains an important litmus test of organisational culture and integrity.

‘Significant parallels can be drawn between the report’s findings and systemic organisational issues recently exposed by our investigation into alleged police misconduct on the Gold Coast [codenamed Operation Tesco],’ he said.

Mr Strange added it was encouraging the QPS, following consultation with the CMC on issues arising from that investigation — notably, concerns touching on organisational culture, leadership and supervision, and current policies related to the acceptance of gratuities — announced a series of new policing strategies.

‘While it’s important not to lose sight of the fact the report doesn’t take into account positive reforms since 2008, what it does show, in tandem with evidence from Operation Tesco, is the importance of an ongoing approach to ensure high ethical standards are maintained by all officers,’ he said.

‘From the CMC’s viewpoint, results of the police ethics survey confirm the reform process is moving in the right direction and we will continue to work with the QPS to address ongoing trouble spots and assist efforts to improve management of identified risks.’


Notes to Editors:
• The ethical perceptions and attitudes of Queensland Police Service recruits and first year constables 1995–2008 can be read in full on the CMC’s website.
• Since 2008, the CMC has provided annual summaries of the police ethics survey directly to the QPS so that its training courses can be quickly modified when necessary.


For further information contact:

Shelley Thomas, Communications Officer
E: [email protected]
Tel:  3360 6344     Mobile:  0407 373 803     Fax: 3360 6235

Leanne Hardyman, Media Adviser
E: [email protected]
Mobile:  0407 373 803     Fax:  3360 6235

Last updated: 16 January 2012
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