‘Toxic’ claims trash WA top cop’s legacy

Former West Australian police commissioner Karl O'Callaghan. Picture: AAP
Former West Australian police commissioner Karl O'Callaghan. Picture: AAP

FORMER West Australian police commissioner Karl O’Callaghan says a “quick and dirty” report claiming he presided over dysfunction including gambling, sexual harassment and misconduct aims to trash his legacy.

The independent review by consultant Ron Bogan describes a “toxic environment of fear” during Mr O’Callaghan’s tenure.

Having retired in 2017 after serving as commissioner for 13 years, Mr O’Callaghan swiftly rebutted the allegations on Wednesday.

“It doesn’t have any evidence, it doesn’t have any facts, it’s based on the opinion of some disaffected people who didn’t like the policing model,” he told 6PR radio.

“I don’t think this report has any credibility whatsoever.”

 

Mr O’Callaghan said Mr Bogan never asked to interview him and he had not yet seen the report.

He denied a list of allegations including “jobs for mates”, an affair involving an unnamed senior officer and incidents of sexual harassment, which he said had never been put to him.

Allegations about problem gambling were referred to the Corruption and Crime Commission but there was no evidence to support the claims, he added.

Mr O’Callaghan said it was suspicious the report covered the period from 2013 – when current commissioner Chris Dawson left the force – to 2017.

“It tries to distance the current commissioner from any involvement … saying that we only lost leadership direction when he left,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

He noted the document had been available since 2017 but had only now been released following a push by The West Australian newspaper.

“This smacks of a lot of politics,” he said.

“If you want to discredit the police commissioner you’re also trying to discredit the previous police minister, who of course is now the opposition leader.”

Former police minister Liza Harvey.

Former police minister Liza Harvey took over Liberal leadership from Mike Nahan last week.

Police Minister Michelle Roberts denied it was a political stitch-up.

“When Chris Dawson was appointed he said he wanted to have a short, sharp review … of where the police force was at,” she said.

“I’m disappointed Karl thinks there’s some political interference and I can understand why he’s upset today.

“It would have been better had he been provided with a copy of the report.”

Ms Roberts dismissed questions about the timing of the report, saying Labor had no idea when the opposition would change leaders.

In a statement released by WA Police, Commissioner Chris Dawson said the intention of the report was to provide a stock take of WA Police “at a moment in time”.

“It was never intended that the review be aired in this manner,” he said.

“I also want to inform you that there are no ongoing internal investigations in relation to allegations made during the review.

“Professional Standards carried out the investigations, reviewed by the CCC and no findings of misconduct were sustained.

“The final report helped shape my thinking in relation to the direction I needed to set for WA Police.

“You would be aware that since I took over as Commissioner there have been some significant changes to how we go about our business.

“This is ongoing work that does not hinge on one review.┬áChange is constant and frank feedback from staff is crucial to that process.

“While these documents were written by a consultant in 2017, I ask that we remain focused on our job and our mission to provide trusted and valued policing for Western Australia.”