Union boss to face inquiry over Queensland police response to domestic violence

<span>Photograph: Darren England/AAP</span>
Photograph: Darren England/AAP

The head of Queensland’s police union has been called to give evidence at a commission of inquiry into the force’s response to domestic violence.

The commission revealed on Thursday it would hold three additional days of hearings in October, after receiving more than 250 extra submissions following the evidence of commissioner Katarina Carroll last month.

Carroll will be recalled to face more questioning on 5 October while Ian Leavers, president of the Queensland Police Union since 2009, will appear two days later.

The fact neither Carroll or Leavers was initially called to appear at the inquiry raised eyebrows among domestic violence campaigners and victims, who became more angry when it was revealed Carroll initially declined a request to appear.

Carroll’s testimony had immediate ramifications, with deputy commissioner Paul Taylor apologising and announcing his resignation after Carroll was asked by the commission about comments he’d made at a policing conference referring to a friend as a “vagina whisperer”.

The commissioner’s appearance sparked such a strong response that the commission decided to extend submissions and conduct more hearings, pushing its final reporting date back until November.

Leavers originally opposed calls for the commission of inquiry, last year labelling recommendations by the state’s women’s safety and justice taskforce another “woke, out-of-touch report”.

In May, he changed his view after giving evidence at the inquest into the death of Hannah Clarke and her three children and described the inquiry as “an opportunity” to commit to reforms.

He had made a written submission to the inquiry in which he said there was no “widespread cultural problem” in how officers respond to domestic violence incidents.

“There are still unsatisfactory behaviours and attitudes within the service, as would be found in any large organisation,” Leavers wrote. “Some of the feedback and evidence to this commission of inquiry makes that plain. Importantly though, I suggest that this involves only a very small minority of serving police officers.”

The additional hearings are expected to run from 5, 6 and 7 October at the Brisbane magistrates court, with the commission’s report to be handed to the Queensland government on 14 November.