‘Toughest of 5 years’: Qld police commissioner bows out

Fraser Barton |

Katarina Carroll’s tenure as Queensland’s police commissioner ends on Friday.
Katarina Carroll’s tenure as Queensland’s police commissioner ends on Friday.

Queensland police are facing more challenges dealing with youth crime and their workload has increased since COVID-19, the outgoing commissioner says.

Katarina Carroll is finishing as the state’s 20th police commissioner on Friday after 41 years of service and almost five years in the top job. 

Ms Carroll spent five years as Queensland Fire and Emergency Services chief before becoming the first woman to take over as the state’s top cop.

She believes Queensland had one of the best collective responses to COVID-19 in the world but admits the challenges faced by the service have changed significantly since the pandemic.

“We can see it in our daily statistics – the exponential increase in domestic violence, the exponential increase in mental health, the increase in the changing behaviour of youth crime,” she said in a video-recorded interview released by Queensland Police on Friday.

“Where the notoriety on social media platforms is a challenge, where the breaking in to grab the keys to steal high-end vehicles, these are some of the things that we did not see prior to COVID.”

Katarina Carroll
Ms Carroll said the last five years have been the toughest on record. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

Ms Carroll said there had also been an exponential increase in violence in terms of the weapons young people were using.

“The environment has changed substantially and it is more challenging, and demand has definitely increased post-COVID.”

The outgoing commissioner said police operations during the pandemic including the monitoring of quarantine hotels and the state’s road borders slowed the organisation down “dramatically”. 

Having spent her entire career as a public servant she said the last five years have been the toughest on record.

“We went through COVID, a number of task forces, a commission of inquiry, the deaths of three police officers and the challenges and the demand that we’re dealing with … they have been the toughest of five years,” she said.

Katarina Carroll hugs deputy police commissioner Steve Gollschewski
Ms Carroll ended her five-year term early after recent scrutiny and reports of officer unrest. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

Ms Carroll decided not to seek an extension to her contract, due to expire in July, and fast-tracked her exit as commissioner amid mounting pressure.

She said the decision to move on was hers alone despite recent media scrutiny, ongoing youth crime issues and reports of officer unrest, particularly on the Gold Coast.

The role and challenges faced by police have evolved, and will continue to change, Ms Carroll said. 

“We talk about police attending mental health jobs – this is one of the biggest impacts,” she said.

“Police are not clinicians, they’re not social workers. They do require further assistance in this space. 

“Into the very near future … is to really look at what is the role of police in the future and what do police do, and what don’t police do.

“The role has substantially changed and are we ready for that.”

As for her own future, Ms Carroll said time spent with family will be a priority as well as “a long sleep and a rest”.

“I have not had many holidays or many breaks in the last 12 years,” she said.

“I think I need to learn to slow down, just enjoy my family, enjoy a bit of a slower pace, and maybe in the next few months I’ll think about the next steps.”