26 September 2023

Police shine light on their hospital beat

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The Queensland Police Service (QPS) has said that one of its more unusual police beats takes in hospitals where injury and trauma are often associated with investigation or charges being laid.

The QPS said the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) was one of the State’s largest and busiest hospitals dealing with many of the worst trauma cases — and as such had its own police beat.

The QPS said the PAH Police Beat was permanently established nearly 14 years ago after a two-year trial period, and for its five police officers and one staff member, it represents an unusual working environment.

Sergeant Chris Hale has been the Officer in Charge of the beat since 2009, interspersed with periods of relieving at other police stations.

He said the beat served a dual role, both operational and informational.

“We exercise police powers to conduct operational duties within the hospital, but we also act as an enquiry office to assist officers out on the road with information to help them do their job,” Sergeant Hale said.

“Hospital staff are unable to provide details over the phone regarding a patient’s injuries or updates on their condition, so we act as a conduit between doctors and police on the road.”

He said police might need this information quickly so they could lay appropriate charges if they had an offender in custody, or they might need a formal statement of injuries to prepare a brief of evidence for the court or the coroner.

“If a victim of an assault is unwilling to provide details of their injuries, then PAH Police Beat officers can serve a search warrant authorising the release of this information from Queensland Health,” Sergeant Hale said.

“They also serve subpoenas on doctors to testify in court, which is a standard part of the legal process.”

The PAH Police Beat is staffed from 7am to 10pm Sunday to Monday, with hours extending to 2am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Police at the nearby Dutton Park Station are on standby to respond if an incident occurs outside these hours.

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