High-ranking Queensland police officers under scrutiny over offensive social media activity

<span>Queensland police service Det Supt Benjamin Fadian.</span><span>Photograph: Jono Searle/AAP</span>
Queensland police service Det Supt Benjamin Fadian.Photograph: Jono Searle/AAP

Queensland police’s ethical standards command is conducting a review after high-ranking members of the service appeared to publicly share and comment on lewd social media posts over a number of years, including one about a sexual assault.

From 2017 to 2022, Det Supt Benjamin Fadian publicly tagged a number of officers in dozens of Facebook posts about subjects including pornography, masturbation and dildos.

One public post that Fadian commented on, on 7 November 2017, was a screenshot of a news article about a law student being jailed for an apparent sexual assault after hitting a sleeping girl with his penis.

Fadian tagged another Facebook user on the post before responding to someone who tagged him: “neither of us got the op [overall position mark] to do law mate.”

The comment was made when Fadian was working in the ethical standards command, an internal police integrity unit that investigates complaints against members of the service.

Fadian now holds the rank of detective superintendent and has briefed reporters about various cases, including alleged domestic violence incidents and murder cases.

The sexual assault post is not the only Facebook post Queensland police service (QPS) members have commented on publicly that are now being reviewed internally.

Fadian also made comments on public posts several years ago that appeared to make jibes at an associate’s sexuality.

Fadian also commented on one public post in 2017 showing a graphic image of elephants that read “tag a mate who likes it up the ass”. Tagging a person, he wrote: “like looking at a portrait of you”.

Fadian tagged the same person in a post about “cock soup”, calling it his “favourite meal” in 2018 and tagged him in another post during the same year about “homo milk” saying “litres of it for you”.

In a post from 2017 about a “ladyboy bar” in Manila, Fadian tagged the person and said: “your favourite place.”

He also tagged the person in a post from 2018 showing a woman on a bike seat that read “tag a mate who’d sniff this seat”. “At it again,” Fadian wrote.

The Facebook profile was removed after Fadian was contacted for comment by Guardian Australia. The profile has since been restored but is locked. The Guardian did not receive a response to questions.

Meanwhile, Queensland police are also investigating a post by QPS member Brad Rix about International Women’s Day from 2024.

The photo – which Rix has shared every International Women’s Day since at least 2021 – shows a wrinkled banner and reads: “International women’s day – could’ve ironed it.”

Several profiles that appear to belong to Queensland police officers have liked or engaged with the post.

Rix deleted the post after being contacted by Guardian Australia and did not respond to questions. After the Guardian asked why the post was removed, the Facebook profile was locked.

Both Rix and Fadian were tagged in another post in 2017 by Det Insp Michael Jones of the QPS child abuse and sexual crime group about a woman drinking from a “dong bong” which was shaped like a penis.

Jones wrote “the new tube is certainly interesting” to which Fadian responded it was a “tad unseemly” and Jones replied: “I can think of some who would enjoy a sip from it.”

Rix wrote it brought “a whole new connotation to [the officer’s] preferred real man’s piss”.

Meanwhile, another detective currently at the ethical standards command commented under the post: “terrible addition to the HMAS BC.” The comment appears to be a reference to an annual boat trip the men go on.

Jones did not respond to a request for comment and the name of his Facebook profile was changed after being contacted by Guardian Australia. The other detective was also sent questions by the Guardian but did not respond.

A QPS spokesperson said the service was “aware of these matters and the content of the material is currently subject of review by the Ethical Standards Command”.

“The QPS have an established social media policy and will consider discipline action in regard to any identified breach of that policy.”

Related: Queensland police ‘failure of leadership’ has allowed sexism, racism and fear to take hold, inquiry finds

Queensland police’s social media policy states members must not “engage in activities online, posting comments or uploading images that would bring the service into disrepute, undermine the service standing as a trusted member of law enforcement … [and] are inconsistent with service values”.

The QPS website says the purpose of the ethical standards command is “to protect the high standards of integrity and professionalism necessary to maintain the trust and support of our community”.

A commission of inquiry into the QPS in 2022 uncovered damning evidence about alleged behaviour of QPS officers. There is no suggestion that any of the officers named in this article were the subject of allegations in that inquiry.

“Future improvements will require a sustained and dedicated commitment from a strong and respected leadership,” the report said.

“This is likely to be a significant challenge for the QPS.”

• Information and support for anyone affected by rape or sexual abuse issues is available from the following organisations. In Australia, support is available at 1800Respect (1800 737 732). In the UK, Rape Crisis offers support on 0808 500 2222. In the US, Rainn offers support on 800-656-4673. Other international helplines can be found at ibiblio.org/rcip/internl.html