Police inability to take action will lead to more murders, lawyers warn

Police inability to take action will lead to more murders, lawyers warn

26 April 2021 By Naomi Neilson
Police inability to take action will lead to more murders

The horrific murder of Kelly Wilkinson and the numerous failures of the system to prevent further domestic violence incidents will not be fixed with another, ineffective internal review, a Queensland women’s legal body has argued.  

Last Tuesday, 20 April, Gold Coast mother-of-three Kelly Wilkinson was found in the backyard of her home after she was doused in petrol and burned. In the weeks leading up to her murder by an estranged partner, Ms Wilkinson sought the help of police “almost every day” after first making a domestic violence complaint in March. 

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As more details emerge about the inability of police to take action, the Queensland community has called for a major review into the domestic violence system. Women’s Legal Services Queensland (WLSQ) are among the organisations calling on the investigation to go beyond an internal review by a coroner. 

“There were numerous serious and direct warning signs of escalating violence. This should have been ringing deafening alarm bells,” chief executive Angela Lynch said. “The idea that police should investigate this horrific failure of the system themselves is absurd.” 

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Ms Lynch added that the internal reviews have changed nothing, and that the community needs a “full and independent” investigation. WLSQ is concerned that while waiting years for the coroner’s review to be complete, following the murder trial, more and more women who seek help will continue to be murdered. 

“If the police are serious about understanding why women keep getting murdered despite warning signs, then why would they fear an independent investigation into the practices that failed to prevent them?” Ms Lynch commented. “The government must commission a full and independent inquiry into police treatment.”

Ms Lynch also slammed police leadership for repeatedly admitting that there were failures in the system but failing to change anything. 

“What was the change that came from the last internal review? Nothing at all? Or is it simply that we don’t know without public accountability and oversight. This is simply not good enough when lives are on the line,” she said. 

On top of the independent review, WLSQ has asked for an urgent review into bail laws after it was disclosed the perpetrator was supposed to have been monitored closely. Ms Lynch said police should not have discretion in circumstances of serious assault and violence to allow immediate release back into the community without at least further oversight from the courts. 

“An independent investigation will protect the many good police officers who care,” Ms Lynch added. “Good police are trapped in a system that protects perpetrators and doesn’t believe victims.”

Police inability to take action will lead to more murders, lawyers warn
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