Past failures on hate crime show urgent need for immediate reform of police oversight


The report from NSW Police Force Strike Force Parrabell has been released today, highlighting systemic failings by the police in responding to gay hate murders between 1976 and 2000. The report found that one third of the deaths considered were likely gay hate killings.

There is a strong need now to both implement the recommendations of the report, and to take bold steps to ensure that community concerns about policing are addressed.

Recommendations of the report include the need for the police to foster reciprocal relationships of trust with organisations and the broader GLBTIQ community, better community engagement, more comprehensive and sensitive training for police officers, and the need to be vigilant about emerging categories of hate crime.

The report finds that "The NSWPF should remain vigilant to the complexities and nuance of bias as it relates to sexuality and/or gender identity (including violence directed at transgender people)".

Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said: "It is a significant step forward that police have undertaken this review and taken responsibility for past mistakes.

"However it should not have taken so many years of campaigning by the family of Scott Johnson and others to achieve this, often in the face of significant institutional resistance.

"One of the key reasons it has taken so long to get a comprehensive investigation is the model of police investigating police, which allows institutional shortcomings to be compounded, and doesn't provide an independent examination.

"The 88 deaths covered in the report include extreme and brutal violence directed towards the LGBTIQ community, and identify the institutional bias that prevented the police from properly investigating or protecting the community.

"There needs to be a more open, independent and accountable way of holding police to account for past and present failures. "The LGBTI community, First Nations and multicultural Australia need a strong voice within the police to ensure that this kind of bias in policing does not continue.

"This report is hard reading, and the case studies that underpin it will be distressing for the families who were so seriously let down by society and the police.

"Our thoughts today are with the family and friends of the 88 people whose lives were lost and whose deaths were disregarded. This must never happen again.

"A statutory community oversight board with the ability to directly raise community issues with the most senior police and demand responses would be a start," Mr Shoebridge said.

NSW Greens Spokesperson on Sex, Sexuality and Gender Identity, Jenny Leong MP says: "Given the long and challenging history of interactions between LGBTIQ+ communities and the NSW Police, it's understandable that the people might be mistrustful of these findings, especially given the discrepancies between this report and a similar one from ACON earlier this year."

"It has long been the position of the Greens that police investigating their own actions, particularly in relation to matters as serious as gay, transgender and lesbian hate crimes, is problematic."

"The families and victims of historical hate crimes in NSW deserve reassurance and an independent investigation," Ms Leong said.