No charges will be laid against the Queensland police officer who helped a domestic violence perpetrator track down his victim.
‘Julie’ (not her real name) lodged a complaint with the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) earlier this year, reporting that a police officer gave her new address to her violent former partner – who is the officer’s friend – and then laughed it off in a text message.
Rather than investigate the matter itself, the CCC referred Julie’s complaint back to the Queensland Police Service’s Ethical Standards Command.
After a lengthy investigation, the QPS confirmed that the officer not only unlawfully accessed her private information and passed it to his mate – which can amount to a criminal offence – but then joked about it via text:
“Just tell her you know where she lives and leave it at that. Lol. She will flip,” the officer’s message to Julie’s former partner read.
No charges will be laid
But while the investigation established that an offence had likely occurred, charges will not be laid against the officer, which means that a court will not have the opportunity to determine his guilt or innocence.
The QPS says the officer may be disciplined, which could include a reduction in pay, having to undergo a course of training, or even suspension or dismissal.
However, Julie believes the response is not good enough in light of the seriousness of the breach and what she’s been through.
“I’m shocked, outraged, disappointed. I’m left feeling unsafe and that there is no justice,” Julie stated.
She says investigators left her feeling like she was the criminal, rather than the victim.
Queensland Police and the Ethical Standards unit has declined to comment further on the matter.
Slap on the wrist
Domestic violence workers have called the outcome “unsatisfactory” and a “slap on the wrist”.
They believe a strong message should have been sent that police officers who engage in conduct which endangers those they are meant to protect will be severely disciplined.
They feel the decision not to prosecute the officer is inconsistent with claims by the QPS that the protection of victims is its highest priority.
The decision is also at-odds with government initiatives which seek to protect and support domestic violence victims.
Supporting domestic violence victims
The federal government has promised increased funding to address the issue of domestic violence in Australia.
New figures suggest a 13% increase in the number of families asking for help to deal with domestic violence compared to nine years ago, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called the problem “Australia’s shame.”
While there is growing awareness of the options available to families seeking help, it is often police who are first alerted to an incident.
Questions have long been raised about the responsibilities of police when dealing with domestic violence, as well as whether or not they have enough training to give proper assistance.
Where’s the justice?
Social justice advocate Renee Eaves has expressed disappointment over decision not to bring charges against the officer, saying it shows the police service is not serious enough about protecting people’s information.
“It’s a criminal offence and it’s being treated as if it’s just something that happens … it’s unfortunate,” Ms Eaves has remarked.