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CMC Review of the Queensland Police Service's Palm Island Review

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2010
216 pages
This report examines an aboriginal death while in custody at the Palm Island watch-house.
In 1991, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) handed down recommendations outlining the responsibilities of police officers assigned to such investigations. Thirteen years after RCIADIC, Mulrunji died in the Palm Island watch-house. This report is a review by the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) of an internal investigation by the Queensland Police and examines the initial police investigation into the events surrounding the death of Mulrunji on Palm Island in November 2004. The circumstances of Mulrunji's death and the subsequent police investigation exacerbated longstanding distrust between police and sections of the Palm Island community, culminating in a riot and the burning of the police station. In reviewing the chain of events, it appears that the provisions of RCIADIC, designed to ensure the integrity of investigation, to aid police in bridging cultural differences, and to support indigenous people in distressing circumstances were, in this case, neglected by members of the Queensland Police Service with disastrous consequences for all concerned. The focus of this report is on the internal investigation initiated by the Commissioner of Police and what that investigation tells us about the manner in which the QPS has responded to criticism of its officers. References and appendix