Commissioner Karen Webb apologises over hate crimes


nsw police commissioner karen webb
Image: NSW Police Facebook

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb today apologised to the families of gay hate crime victims in response to the findings of the Special Commission of Inquiry into LGBTIQ hate crimes. 

The inquiry investigated the suspicious deaths and unsolved murders of LGBTIQ people in NSW from 1970 until 2010.

Justice Sackar of the Supreme Court of NSW headed the inquiry, which examined 34 deaths over 40 years. The Justice found reason to suspect that LGBTIQ bias was a factor in 21 deaths. He found that LGBTIQ bias was a factor in four deaths, with the remaining nine attributed to misadventure or suicide.

Justice Sackar found that police who investigated the deaths were “indifferent, negligent, dismissive or hostile.”

Despite numerous police failings, the judge made a point of not recommending a police apology at the time. Justice Sackar said an apology perceived as coming about because he recommended it would be of limited value.

“Mistakes of the past will not define our future”

Commissioner Webb today said she was sorry and promised NSW Police would learn lessons from the inquiry’s findings.

“I recognise that the investigation failings highlighted by the Special Commission have resulted in enduring hurt for many. They do not represent the standards the community expect of us, and we expect of ourselves.

“To the victims and families that NSW Police failed by not adequately and fairly investigating those deaths between 1970 and 2010, I am sorry.

“I apologise for the gaps in those investigative processes where records and exhibits were lost or not examined with enough rigour.

“I realise that this has meant missed opportunities to identify possible offenders as new leads emerged or as new forensic advances became available.

“And I acknowledge the increased suffering experienced by victims and their families where the crimes were motivated by bias against members of the LGBTIQ community.

“I assure the LGBTIQ community that under my leadership, NSW Police will use these lessons to continue to improve the way it serves all members of the community with respect, fairness, and inclusivity.

“The mistakes of the past will not define our future.”

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Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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1 Comment

  1. Dan
    28 February 2024
    Reply

    The trouble with the special commission is that it focused on deaths.
    Not all victims of gay hate crime were killed,
    Many of us survived but it fundamentally broke us.
    The special commission is just the tip of the iceberg.
    The truth is gay hate crime was monstrously worse than has ever been acknowledged

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