QCAT refuses stay of disciplinary action against police officer accused of bullying

A Queensland police officer has lost an application to stay disciplinary action demoting him from sergeant to senior constable as a result of alleged bullying and workplace misconduct.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Member Bevan Hughes recently refused an application by the officer, identified here as PJW, to stay a decision to demote him by Queensland Police Service (QPS) Assistant Commissioner (AC) Maurice Careless on 1 March.

The tribunal was told the alleged misconduct against PJW included workplace bullying and negative workplace behaviour over an extended period.

As a result of subsequent internal police disciplinary proceedings, QPS Assistant Commissioner Careless made a finding that, on the evidence provided, PJW had engaged in workplace bullying and other workplace misconduct.

Mr Hughes, in his findings published last Friday (28 May), said: “As a result of these findings, Assistant Commissioner Careless demoted (PJW) from Sergeant … to Senior Constable.’’

“Assistant Commissioner Carless did not consider suspending the sanction to be in the best interests of the (QPS) or the community.

“(However, PJW) has applied to the Tribunal to stay the sanction decision, pending the outcome of his application for review of both the findings of misconduct and the resulting sanctions.”

The sanctions imposed also included PJW being transferred to a general duties position and prevented from being allowed to perform higher duties or relieve in any position outside of his general duties role.

While details of PJW’s alleged bullying and misconduct are not included in the seven-page tribunal decision, Mr Hughes did note that PJW strenuously denied the allegations levelled against him.

“The alleged misconduct here includes workplace bullying and negative workplace behaviour over an extended period … (and) is particularly concerning where any negative workplace behaviour may not only adversely affect the morale and mental health of colleagues, but also impede their ability to perform their duties,” Mr Hughes said.

“It should be emphasised that (PJW) strongly disputes the allegations and I make no findings about them.

“However, for the purposes of this stay application it suffices that the alleged behaviour is inconsistent with supervisory obligations and leadership responsibilities and, if proven, would show a considerable lack of insight into, and respect for, police operations.”

Mr Hughes said the QPS was dependent on the confidence and trust of the public it served in the execution of its duties and responsibilities.

Read the decision.

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