NSW Police Were ‘Indifferent’ When Investigating Potential LGBTIQ Hate Crimes, Finds Inquiry

A landmark inquiry into NSW Police Force (NSWPF) has suggested the force be retrained after it heard testimonies that officers responded to anti-LGBTQIA hate crimes with indifference, if not outright hostility.

The NSW Special Commissions of Inquiry into LGBTIQ hate crimes has found that its state’s police force failed to conduct proper investigations over hate crimes against LGBTIQ community members, with historic accounts from victims and their families reporting that police responded to them with indifference, or even hostility.

These accounts came from the examination of decades of unsolved killings of LGBTIQ people between the 1970s and 2010, in an inquiry that took over 18 months to complete, and produced a four volume report of more than 3,500 pages.

Commission leader Justice John Sackar stated in the report that the killings examined in the inquiry were all “suspected of being motivated, at least in part, by hatred for a person simply because of their identity.”

“It was and is confronting to face the reality that, despite all efforts, many of these deaths remain unsolved,” said Sackar.

The report recommended that NSW Police enforce training on potential biases against the LGBTIQ community, including calls for a review of police procedures and resources for investigation hate crimes.

NSW Police presence at Sydney Mardi Gras 2021. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

At the end of Commissioner Sackar’s formal recommendations, Sackar shared his thoughts on the NSW Police being forced to make an apology and acknowledgment of their historic faults as part of the recommendations.

“In my view, an apology is not only appropriate, but the absence to date of an apology from the Commissioner of the NSWPF has been extremely difficult to understand,” wrote Sackar.

“I have not recommended an apology because I consider that an apology perceived as coming about only because I have recommended it is likely to be of limited value. However, I urge the NSWPF to consider the value of sincerely and unequivocally acknowledging the shortcomings of the past.”

In response to the historic inquiry, NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb acknowledged the findings, and reiterated her commitment to strengthening the relationship between the force and the LGBTIQ community.

“It is deeply regrettable and while I cannot undo what has occurred previously, I give you my commitment today that NSWPF is determined to uphold the policies, education, and training now entrenched in the practices of modern policing which did not exist 30 years ago,” stated Webb in a press release.

NSW Premier Chris Minns stated that his government will “thoroughly consider the Commission’s report”, and thanked everyone involved in the inquiry for their time and courage.

In April NSW Police had to issue an apology for. photo which surfaced of an officer standing with a man wearing a shirt with a homophobic slur.