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The report titled, Investigation Arista: A report concerning the investigation into the Queensland Police Service’s 50/50 gender equity recruitment strategy details how what started as a nobly intended strategy was poorly communicated to front line staff who were tasked with its implementation and discriminatory practices were implemented to achieve its goal. Those practices were hidden by misleading information and spin and senior executives blindly accepted the spin and did not enquire further.

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Today, the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) tabled a report in State Parliament following its investigation into historical recruitment strategies of the Queensland Police Service (QPS) aimed at addressing the comparatively low numbers of females within the Service.

The report titled, Investigation Arista: A report concerning the investigation into the Queensland Police Service’s 50/50 gender equity recruitment strategy details how what started as a nobly intended strategy was poorly communicated to front line staff who were tasked with its implementation and discriminatory practices were implemented to achieve its goal. Those practices were hidden by misleading information and spin and senior executives blindly accepted the spin and did not enquire further.

The CCC was notified of allegations by the QPS in November 2019 and commenced a corruption investigation in January 2020. As the CCC’s investigation evolved, the alleged conduct fell into two main categories:

  • The QPS’s use of discriminatory recruitment practices to achieve the 50% gender equity target; and
  • The deceptive reporting practices used mainly by staff in the QPS Recruiting Section.

The CCC concluded there was insufficient evidence to support criminal action against any person arising out of this investigation. The CCC has decided there is sufficient evidence to support taking disciplinary action against some of the persons of interest identified during the investigation.

The CCC’s investigation, which involved interviewing 43 people, examining 10 people in hearings and considering a range of submissions, revealed ample evidence to support the conclusion that in striving to achieve a 50% female recruitment target during the period December 2015 to around October 2018, the QPS engaged in discriminatory recruitment practices.

The discriminatory practices saw different standards applied to female and male applicants, with females selected in preference to male applicants who had performed to a higher standard across entry assessments. The investigation shows around 2,000 male applicants were subject to discriminatory assessment practices which prevented them from progressing through the recruitment process over approximately an 18-month period from July 2016 to the end of 2017. If the various discriminatory practices had not been implemented, the CCC estimates approximately 200 more meritorious male applicants would have been successful in their attempt to join the QPS.

The investigation also revealed a recurring pattern of misleading, deceptive and false reporting practices in relation to recruitment. The CCC obtained significant evidence that objectively shows some staff members in the QPS Recruiting Section consistently used misleading and vague statements as well as deficient, inaccurate, misleading and false reporting to a range of people over an extended period of time.

CCC Chairperson, Alan MacSporran QC, said while the investigation focused on how the QPS 50/50 recruitment strategy was implemented, the lessons from this investigation have broader application to the entire Queensland public sector.

“This report is a lesson in organisational culture and corruption risks. It is about how messages from the executive leadership are communicated, understood, acted and reported on within an agency. It is also about how staff may know that there is something wrong, but have become accustomed to following their leader’s instructions rather than asking uncomfortable questions. Such a culture clearly opens up an organisation to risk, particularly the risk of corruption,” Mr MacSporran said.

“While admirable in its intention, the strategy was a challenging one for the QPS within the realities of their recruiting environment and there was ambiguity about whether the then Commissioner had directed staff to ensure 50% of recruits were female, or whether this was an “aspirational” target with a recognition that it may not be met. 

“The evidence clearly shows that staff and management in the QPS Recruiting Section knew that discriminatory practices were used to achieve the 50% female recruitment target. The evidence supports the conclusion that the managers and staff of the QPS Recruiting Section provided misleading and deceptive information and answers on a number of occasions to a variety of audiences, including to the QPS executives over an extended period.  Among the executive, no one appears to have given any serious thought to — or asked any critical questions about — a strategy that would affect the whole organisation for years to come.”

“This report is important for the public sector because this type of conduct could happen in any agency. I encourage all public sector executives and Queensland’s public servants to read the report, and especially consider the larger questions this report poses about organisational integrity.”

It is important to note it is not the role of the CCC to assess the merits of the strategy of the QPS to strive to achieve gender equity in recruitment. That was a policy decision of the QPS and began as an attempt to assist in achieving the whole of Queensland Government gender equity strategy announced in 2015. It is beyond the CCC’s role to comment on the validity or otherwise of the QPS’s policy decision.

The CCC has made numerous procedural recommendations to the QPS to ensure the discriminatory practices are not continuing and to take other remedial steps. The current Commissioner of Police has provided the CCC with updates on the Police Recruiting Implementation Plan that was developed to address the recommendations made by the CCC.

The CCC is satisfied with the work being conducted to address the recommendations. 

 

Investigation Arista a Report Concerning an Investigation Into the Queensland Police Services 50 50 Gender... by Michael Smith on Scribd

QPS responds to CCC report

QPS responds to CCC report

Disciplinary action has been taken against three people in relation to a Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) investigation into Queensland police recruiting processes.

Two Queensland Police Service (QPS) employees and a Public Safety Business Agency employee have been suspended as part of an internal disciplinary process. Another person identified in the report has since left the QPS.

Commissioner Katarina Carroll said the QPS accepted the CCC report tabled today and would implement all recommendations as a matter of priority.

“The QPS became aware of concerns around recruiting practices following a change of leadership at our executive level and the concerns were immediately reported to the CCC in November 2019,” Commissioner Carroll said.

“We have fully cooperated with the CCC investigation.

“The conduct alleged in this report is completely disappointing and can I reassure the public that this alleged behaviour does not meet the standards or expectation of our Queensland Police officers and dedicated staff.”

The CCC has advised there is insufficient evidence for any criminal prosecutions.

Commissioner Carroll said the report identifies six women, who while they did not meet the initial minimum standards to enter the academy, each of these women graduated from the Queensland Police Academy meeting all the required standards to become a Queensland police officer.

“While the CCC report identifies that this misconduct ceased in January 2018, I have asked Assistant Commissioner Charysse Pond to conduct a complete review of the QPS recruitment practices to strengthen transparency and to ensure this does not happen again.

“I am committed to independent, transparent and impartial entry testing for all prospective police recruits.

“When I was sworn in as Commissioner, I said that while it is important to be inclusive and diverse, we should always take the best possible applicants regardless of their gender or ethnicity.

“The public as well as our own police officers rightly expects no favours or preferential treatment for any applicant,” Commissioner Carroll said.

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