Police officer who leaked woman’s details claims self-incrimination at tribunal


Posted

November 09, 2018 19:13:49

A Queensland police officer has refused to answer questions at a tribunal, in fear of incriminating himself, about how a woman’s address was leaked to her allegedly violent ex-husband.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is taking legal action against the Queensland Police Service (QPS) and seeking damages, arguing police were liable for the misuse of her private information.

Police barrister Scott McLeod told the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) that police accepted Senior Constable Neil Punchard accessed the QPRIME database and passed on the woman’s personal details without authorisation or consent.

However, Mr McLeod argued that police as an organisation were not responsible for the privacy breaches.

The woman, representing herself, cross-examined Senior Constable Punchard when he was called as a witness to a hearing at QCAT.

However, the officer declined to answer a number of questions about his actions and his understanding of police ethics.

The officer, who joined the QPS in 2002, said several people were advocating for him to be charged with a criminal offence over the leaking of information.

“I have been informed by my solicitor … a complaint has been made against me, which is being investigated by the Crime and Corruption Commission,” Senior Constable Punchard said.

“I wish to advise the tribunal that I am claiming self-incrimination. I decline to answer any questions that may touch those allegations.”

The officer was never charged over the privacy breach but Mr McLeod said he was subjected to internal disciplinary action by the police.

Senior Constable Punchard is not listed as a respondent in the case, and QCAT member Susan Gardiner told the woman that she needed to prove that the QPS was liable.

“No-one’s disputing that it occurred. It’s accepted that he did those things,” Ms Gardiner told the woman.

Police ‘don’t conduct random checks’ on database misuse

Detective Acting Inspector Andrew Prestidge, from the ethical standards unit, said investigations into members’ usage of the QPRIME database were made when allegations of misuse were received.

“I don’t conduct random checks,” he said.

However, Acting Inspector Prestidge said he had no involvement in any investigations into Senior Constable Punchard.

Queensland Police solicitor Ian Fraser told the tribunal that police were required to complete a number of online training courses, including information security.

The tribunal heard Mr Punchard had failed some courses in the past, but Mr Punchard said getting one question wrong could result in failure.

Mr Punchard made no comment outside the hearing.

The matter was adjourned until next year.

Topics:

domestic-violence,

community-and-society,

womens-status,

logan-central-4114,

qld,

australia,

brisbane-4000



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