A Queensland police whistleblower who leaked audio recordings of officers using racist and violent language has been called a “rat” and a “dog” in a private Facebook group for police officers.
The QPS has apologised for the “sickening and disturbing” Brisbane city watch house recordings – which included comments that black people should be beaten and buried – and said the incidents are being investigated.
The police commissioner, Katarina Carroll, said on Tuesday that the actions of the whistleblower, Steven Marshall, were “excellent” and encouraged officers to come forwards with complaints.
Marshall says he made the decision to release the recordings to the Guardian, which were published Sunday, after previous attempts to raise separate matters of concern via internal QPS processes resulted in little formal action, while he says he suffered alleged reprisals from colleagues.
He says he did complain internally about one of the recordings, as well as submitting all of them to the state commission of inquiry into police responses to domestic and family violence.
The inquiry heard several alleged instances where whistleblowers suffered adverse consequences for making a complaint, including officers who said they had been labelled a “dog” by colleagues.
Guardian Australia has seen screenshots of a discussion about the watch house recordings in a private Facebook group for law enforcement officers. Current and former Queensland police officers appear to be involved in the conversation, which includes attacks on Marshall and comments that the recordings are not problematic.
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“Who is the fuckin Rat taping the crew[?]” one man posted. The comment was liked by accounts that appear to be Queensland-based police officers.
Another comment, from a person who appears to be a former Queensland officer, says: “I believe it was a recording from the watch house counter some DOG has made a complaint”.
Other posts, which are liked by serving and former officers, suggest the recordings are just officers being “human”.
“Nothing to see here. Boring edited voice recordings of police who put up with shift after shift of shit. If the general public only knew how bad it was out there, they would and should be afraid.
“Police are human and should be able to talk freely within their own stations. After all that is supposed to be their safe place. What a farce.”
A Queensland-based poster said: “Well some people just won’t be happy til (sic) the police is full of fluffy numpties who are too scared to do or say anything.”
Another, also from Queensland, said: “Were the media feigning outrage to stir up the feral police-haters? I didn’t hear anything offensive on that tape?”
The recordings include officers at the Brisbane city watch house joking about beating and burying black people, complaining “you’ve got to be embarrassed about being white” and raising fears that Australia “will be fucking taken over”.
The tapes include an officer referring to Nigerians as “jigaboos”.
Officers heard in the recordings have not been stood down or identified by police, Carroll confirmed on Tuesday. Emails seen by the Guardian confirm Marshall complained internally about the officer who used the term “jigaboos” and that he previously was dealt with by “local management resolution” – a remedial discussion with a senior officer – and sent back to work.
Marshall says he spoke with the officer in charge of the state’s watch houses, deputy commissioner Mark Wheeler, last month, though he did not share the recordings at the time. He said he raised his concerns, including about racism and sought help finding a job with a different agency due to ongoing reprisals. He says the request was refused.
When asked by journalists about that conversation on Tuesday, Wheeler said he spoke to Marshall for a considerable period of time and had followed proper process.
“I was certainly not aware of those recordings at that point in time. Not aware at all,” he said.