Why do police officers turn against the people they are hired to protect? This question seems all the more urgent in the wake of recent global protests against police brutality. Historical criminologist Paul Bleakley addresses this by examining a series of intersecting cases of police corruption in Queensland, Australia. The protection and extortion of illegal gambling operators and sex workers were only the most visible features of a decades-long, pervasive culture of corruption in the state’s law enforcement agency. Even more dangerous—and far harder to prosecute—was the corrupt bargain between the police and the state’s conservative government, which gave law enforcement free rein to profit from criminalized vice in return for supporting the government’s repression and persecution of its political enemies, from punk music fans to gay men to left-wing protestors. While intimidating members of the political opposition, the police also protected friends and allies from criminal prosecution, even for offenses as serious as child sex abuse. When journalists and investigators revealed this corrupt bargain in 1987, the premier was forced from office and the police commissioner went to prison. But untangling politics from policing proved—and continues to prove—far more difficult in societies around the world. This true crime story goes beyond the everyday violations of law and ethics to underscore how central honest, equitable policing is to a truly democratic society.
About the Author
PAUL BLEAKLEY is a historical criminologist and former journalist from the Gold Coast, Queensland. He currently works as a lecturer in criminology at Middlesex University in London, where he teaches a variety of courses
focused on urban crime and global policing studies.
The state of Queensland, Australia, was once a political backwater of little interest in world affairs. Thanks, however, to a major policing scandal in the late 1980s, the Sunshine State became one of the most analyzed cases in scientific literature on government corruption and reform. Despite this exposure, the meticulous scholarship behind this book by Paul Bleakley sheds new light on many fascinating and neglected aspects of police and government malfeasance in Queensland, in the process generating a set of very useful recommendations, applicable in any jurisdiction, for mitigating these universal problems.—Tim Prenzler, professor of criminology, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia