22 February 2024

QLD Police Commissioner resigns to head off contract extension speculation

| Andrew McLaughlin
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QPS Commissioner Katarina Carroll

Commissioner Carroll insists she was not pushed to step aside. Photo: QPS.

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll announced on 20 February that she will not be seeking an extension to her contract from July, and will actually finish in the role on 2 March.

The announcement of her resignation ends weeks of speculation over whether she would be extended after serving as the first female Commissioner of the Queensland Police Service (QPS) since 2019.

Commissioner Carroll joined the QPS in 1983, and has worked in general duties, the drug squad, ethical standards, the Criminal Investigation Branch, on a Commission of Inquiry, with the Joint Crime Task Force, and on undercover operations including in the prostitution licensing branch.

She also served as female superintendent to the North Queensland region in 2008, as the Operations Commander for the G20 in 2012, and became the first female commissioner of the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service in 2015.

Commissioner Carroll insists she was not pushed despite calls for her resignation in 2022 after a Commission of Inquiry found a culture of sexism, misogyny and racism was rife within the QPS, and that the service had not been successful in changing that culture.

Then-premier Annastacia Palaszczuk backed the Commissioner in the wake of the report, but doubts remained over the support she enjoyed.

She had indicated on Monday night (19 February) that she was considering her future, and reportedly handed Police Minister Mark Ryan her resignation just a couple of hours before her media conference on Tuesday morning.

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Mr Ryan described Commissioner Carroll as a hardworking, fair-minded leader who truly wanted the best outcomes for both the QPS and the Queensland community.

“Commissioner Carroll has implemented a swathe of reforms during her time in the role, working tirelessly to keep Queenslanders safe,” he said.

“I thank her for her hard work. It has truly been a privilege to work alongside her, and I wish the Commissioner all the best going forward.”

She said she had chosen to resign to “let the air clear” in time for a new commissioner to be appointed and cited her family as a driver behind her decision.

“I was going to have the discussion about not renewing my contract with the Minister in about two weeks’ time but, because of heightened speculation and commentary, I brought these discussions forward,” she said.

“I just want the air to be clear. I don’t feel I’ve been made a scapegoat at all. This was my decision.

“What the inquiry did was tarred everyone with the same brush and they’re dark days for us,” she added.

“It was a difficult time but, I am a CEO and ultimately it’s my responsibility to address those issues being raised. There are people, a minority, in my organisation that have been racist, misogynist and sexist — but that is a minority.

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She also cited the way society, child offending and policing had changed post-pandemic as a reason.

“The exponential increase in demand is something we haven’t seen before,” Commissioner Carroll said.

“I candidly talk about the fact that the work has changed since COVID. To have in one year a 25 per cent increase in domestic and family violence is just unheard of,” she added.

“It is one of the most vexed and complex issues that we are dealing with; we have seen the nature of offending in this cohort of children completely change post COVID,” she said.

In summary, Commissioner Carroll said her time as a QPS officer had been “the most incredible and rewarding journey I could have ever asked for”.

“I certainly could not have predicted that a young woman living in Innot Hot Springs in Far North Queensland from Croatian immigrants would make her way through the ranks to be appointed Commissioner of Police,” she told media on Tuesday.

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