26 September 2023

Commissioner warns on Police culture

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The Commissioner for Equal Opportunity and Human Rights, Kristen Hilton has warned Victoria Police that the leaking of photos of a person in custody over the weekend was not just an appalling breach of privacy, but could indicate underlying cultural issues.

Commissioner Hilton, (pictured) said the Police investigation into the leaking must examine more than the privacy.

“This is a deplorable breach of an individual’s right to privacy by a public institution that is expected to uphold the highest standards of integrity,” Commissioner Hilton said.

“Victoria Police plays a vital role in assuring the safety of the Victorian community – but they can only succeed in that role if their conduct inspires public confidence and reassures Victorians of their commitment to fair and equal treatment for all,” she said.

“Every individual should expect the right to not have their private lives, their family, home or personal information, interfered with.”

She said it was clear that that ‘right’ had not been upheld in this instance.

Commissioner Hilton said she released a report, Proud, visible, safe, last year which investigated the experiences of LGBTIQ employees within Victoria Police.

She said the report identified a hypermasculine and heteronormative culture that normalised transphobic and homophobic attitudes and fed constrictive stereotypes.

“It is critical that Victoria Police look beyond the privacy issues and consider the underlying cultural issues that may have contributed to or enabled the officer’s conduct,” she said.

Commissioner Hilton said Victoria Police had worked hard over recent years to transform its relationship with the LGBTIQ community which, in the past, had not always been positive.

She said incidents like that which occurred over the weekend undermined the initiatives the Police had taken to build a stronger, more collaborative relationship with the State’s LGBTIQ community.

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