Shocking police perpetrator stats in domestic and family violence cases

Today in Budget Estimates, Abigail confronted Police Minister Yasmin Catley over the government's failure to implement recommendations from the LECC and the Auditor General in relation to the bias and conflict of interest when police investigate their own mates in domestic violence matters. 

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: Can I just start by asking you, Minister, if you're aware of how many serving officers in the New South Wales Police Force have been at some point charged with a domestic and family violence offence?

Ms YASMIN CATLEY: Can I get that accurate figure just so as—

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: Yes. I asked this question last year and, as of August 2023, I was told that there were 60 serving officers who had been charged with domestic and family violence offences.

Ms YASMIN CATLEY: Sorry, what period do you want—from August to now?

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: No, sorry, I'm letting you know that as of August there were that many within the Police Force sitting there. Sixty had been charged with DFV offences.

Ms YASMIN CATLEY: And you want to know how many there are now. Yes, okay.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: Four of those were still employed and had been convicted of a domestic and family violence offence. Do you have the current figures? That would be great.

Ms YASMIN CATLEY: Fifty-seven.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: Fifty-seven who have been charged are still serving, and how many convicted? Still four?

Ms YASMIN CATLEY: Three.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: And then we come to sexual violence offences, which I also asked about in August. I was told that, of the currently serving officers, 19 had been charged and one convicted—a senior constable—for sexually touching without consent. Are those figures still correct?

Ms YASMIN CATLEY: We might have to get that, sorry.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: Do you think it's acceptable for the Police Force, given that 40 per cent of work that the Police Force does around domestic and family violence, for there to be that many officers who have themselves been charged with domestic and family violence offences?

Ms YASMIN CATLEY: I think that the police take it very seriously. I guess the Police Force—they're the same people as everybody else in the community.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: Yes, but not everyone else in the community is handling domestic and family violence.

Ms YASMIN CATLEY: I accept that; I absolutely accept that, Ms Boyd. But the reality, I guess, is what I'm talking about. The reality is they're people in our community and, unfortunately, we have a lot of people in our community that are perpetrators of this particular crime especially. I guess it's a bit reflective of that. Does that make it right? No, of course not.

...

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) looked into incidents and complaints that they'd had between 2017 and 2021. They released a report in June last year that has some really shocking findings. It said that, in relation to complaints about domestic and family violence incidents, 32 per cent of them involved police officers themselves as an alleged perpetrator. Of the 60 officers who were involved in domestic and family violence incidents who were the subject of complaints, 62 per cent of them were subject to an ADVO. The report is quite shocking reading, but one of the recommendations that it came out with was that, if nothing else, we shouldn't be having people within the same command going and investigating complaints against their mates when they come in.

If, say, a partner of a serving police officer wants to make a complaint about domestic and family violence—and already there are massive obstacles to do that—they go to their local command and there is nothing at the moment that says that that local command needs to pass that on. It's at the discretion of the sergeant. Both the LECC and also the Auditor-General, in her report into police responses to domestic and family violence, made the very strong recommendation that we should automatically have those cases that come in being dealt with by a different command. Instead, we had a response from the Police Force saying, "Not supported"—not going to do that. What is your view of that?

Ms YASMIN CATLEY: I can say that already it is possible for commanders to request that another command do that.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: It is possible, yes, but not mandatory.

Ms YASMIN CATLEY: That's right. I didn't say that. 

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: To be clear, the recommendation was that it should be mandatory.

Ms YASMIN CATLEY: Yes, I hear you. I'm just saying, though—and I will ask Mr Lanyon if he can provide further information on that. I am told by the police that having the local command there—knowing the circumstances, the officers and also the outcomes that we're seeing—doesn't suggest that it's an impediment.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: Have you read the LECC report?

Ms YASMIN CATLEY: Yes. I know— 

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: Have you seen the numbers of complaints that have come to the LECC in relation to police who have been charged themselves with domestic and family violence? Not just this but, as I've just read out to you and you've confirmed, we have 57 serving officers who have been charged themselves. There is nothing to restrict those people from being the ones at the front desk when somebody walks in, in an incredibly vulnerable situation. Why on earth would you get this report from the LECC and also the Auditor-General's report saying, "For God's sake, if nothing else, at least get a different area from the one that the alleged perpetrator's sitting in, to investigate"—why would we be saying no to that?

Ms YASMIN CATLEY: You obviously know that police have responded to LECC, and that's available on the website.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: And they've said "not supported".

Ms YASMIN CATLEY: That's right.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: I'm asking you for your response. Are you going to legislate to require that they move that to a different command, given all of the concerns?

Ms YASMIN CATLEY: That's not my intention.


Read the full transcript here.

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