Police Charged And Stood Down For Breaching Privacy
A SYSTEMIC PROBLEM
POLICE CHARGED AND STOOD DOWN DUE TO DATABASE BREACHES
Senior Constable Punchard, A Queensland police officer allegedly told the abuser that domestic violence victim Jodie* would “f—ing explode” when she realised her ex had her address.He is accused of leaking a domestic violence complainant’s address to her former partner and now has been stood down from official duty after charges were laid against him last week. He was charged with nine counts of computer hacking, after illegally accessing QPRIME to access confidential information about Julie.
The Queensland police officer who leaked the personal details of a domestic violence victim has declined to answer questions about his actions at a tribunal hearing, invoking his privilege against self-incrimination.
The tribunal accepts as fact that senior constable Neil Punchard accessed the personal details of a woman, known as Julie, and sent them to her violent former husband. For more information on the article please click here.
Julie, the alleged complainant, is seeking compensation for breach of privacy in the Queensland civil and administrative tribunal (QCAT).
But as it turns out this is not the first time Police have breached victim’s privacy via accessing the police databases.
THE INDEPENDENT BROAD-BASED ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION
The police who are entrusted to protect us also have a history of letting us down. Today in 2018 we are seeing the ramifications of one officer (Senior Constable Punchard) with him being finally stood down however the same if not worse problem seems to have already reared its ugly head only a few short years ago in Victoria.
In 2015 the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) in Victoria examined 142 allegations of predatory behaviour, including grooming, stalking or sexually assaulting vulnerable members of the community, and accessing private police databases to do so over a 10-year period between 2004 and 2014.
According to the 2015 commission report, the officers targeted victims of domestic and family violence or sexual assault, sex workers, people with mental illness, or those with an alcohol or drug addiction with predatory behaviour. At the time IBAC commissioner Stephen O’Bryan said;
“Predatory behaviour by a small number of police officers can have devastating impacts on victims, while undermining the crucial work of the vast majority of their colleagues,”
The question to now ask is why then if the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission flagged the issue back in 2015 are, we still seeing such breaches occurring?
In answer to that question the report found the behaviour was likely to be part of a pattern “requiring closer examination of officers’ complaint histories”. The one unifying factor is however that unlawful access to the police database was commonly misused to gain the details of the victims and officers from rural areas were over-represented as alleged perpetrators of predatory behaviour. Moreover;
“Due to the vulnerability of the victims in such cases, it is highly likely that predatory behaviour is under-reported,” Mr O’Bryan said.
“This is a cultural issue, and really, police members are a reflection of the broader community, and it takes time to challenge people’s attitudes and their behaviours.”
FAST FORWARD TO CASE OF SENIOR CONSTABLE PUNCHARD
Earlier this year Senior Constable Neil Punchard, 52, who in 2014 allegedly accessed the confidential police database Q-PRIME to look up a woman’s personal details gained notoriety in the media. Senior Constable Punchard allegedly passed on information, including the woman’s address, to her former partner, who was subject to an ongoing domestic violence order.
Following media coverage and criticism from the Crime and Corruption Commission, Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart met with Elizabeth in May and ordered a review of the internal investigation.
Senior Constable Punchard has now been served with a notice to appear in Court, has also been stood down and now is expected to face the Brisbane Magistrates Court on January 30, 2019 over the alleged breach.
The complainant Elizabeth (not her real name) was informed about the charges by police last Friday and reported she felt “relieved and grateful”.
“I’m relieved that finally I can experience some form of justice … finally after going through this battle for over two years,” she said.
“I’m happy that finally Queensland police have acted because it was a horrible ordeal to go through.”
Senior Constable Punchard was set to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on January 30, 2019, after being served with a notice for inappropriate information and release.