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Queensland needs an inquiry into police domestic violence mindset

By Jennifer Hetherington - posted Thursday, 31 October 2019

Queensland's Premier must launch a formal inquiry into the mindset of the Queensland Police Service toward domestic violence victims, while lawmakers must elevate domestic violence offences to the category of a serious crime to defeat the scourge of domestic violence in Australia.

These priorities are now essential following the pathetic sentence handed down to a police officer who accessed the confidential police database and texted the address of a domestic violence victim to her abusive former husband.

Senior Constable Neil Punchard has been sentenced to two months' jail, wholly suspended for 18 months, for leaking the personal details of a domestic violence complainant, including her address, to her former partner.


Punchard accessed confidential police databases on nine occasions over a year, and passed on the woman's contact details to her ex-husband, who is now subject to a Domestic Violence Order (DVO).

I am disgusted at the lenient sentence which is a gross betrayal of the trust domestic violence victims place in our police to safeguard them.

The inadequate Punchard sentence has illustrated the appalling reality that too often the charges against the perpetrators of domestic violence do not reflect the seriousness of their crimes.

Too often we hear stories of women bashed beyond recognition and near death in hospital while their abusive partners are charged as though they just had a drunken fight at the pub. In such situations they should face charges that reflect their mentality at the time, such as attempted murder.

Maybe then they may realise just how dangerously close they have come to being a murderer. Tragically too many of them are even crossing that line".

I am renewing a call I made last year for a formal and detailed investigation into the mindset of QPS officers to weed out any others who behave like Constable Punchard.


To those who just say he should be sacked, that's an employment issue. What he did demands a gaol sentence.

Last year's revelations of this scandal were staggering and evoked the spectre of a secret culture within the Queensland Police Service that undermined state government measures to combat domestic violence.

Our police are supposed to be the front line of protection for DV victims so revelations of a police officer accessing the database and texting a woman's address to her abusive ex partner, and encouraging the man to intimidate her with this information, is beyond disgusting.

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About the Author

Jennifer Hetherington is a multi-award winning Family Law Accredited Specialist and principal of Brisbane family law firm Hetherington Family Law.

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