Victoria Police officers have searched the force’s Frankston station and interviewed several officers accused of claiming to be non-binary to fraudulently claim more money for civilian clothing allowances.
Chief Commissioner Shane Patton announced a probe into the issue in July, after reports that some male officers had been rorting a discrepancy in the force’s clothing allowance by identifying as non-binary.
Under the scheme, female officers are entitled to claim about $1300 more than male colleagues.
A Victoria Police spokesperson confirmed seven male officers had been interviewed over the matter, while a search warrant had been executed at a southern region police station on July 21.
“As inquiries are ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time,” the spokesperson said.
Professional Standards Command detectives arrested a member of the Frankston crime investigation unit on Monday, according to a police source not authorised to speak publicly.
Patton announced the investigation after the force noted a sharp increase in the number of officers identifying as gender-neutral over the previous year.
The claims were first raised by the @discernibleofficial Instagram page in June, which posted: “We have unconfirmed reports from inside Victoria Police that management is pulling their hair out after a majority of a CIU (crime investigation unit) in southern region changed their profile in the HR system to be ‘gender neutral’.”
Patton then told all members in a statement that “conduct of this sort, if validated, is not acceptable and falls far short of the standards I expect from Victoria Police members and standards of behaviour outlined in our code of conduct and Victoria Police values”.
He said the option to self-describe had been introduced about three years ago as an act of good faith to support gender diverse employees.
“This behaviour has had a significant impact on our gender diverse employees and our reputation among the Victorian LGBTIQ+ community. If validated, I will find it very disappointing that those employees have engaged in such conduct, exploiting an entitlement for those who identify as gender diverse,” Patton stated.
Officers wanting to claim the allowance, which is paid fortnightly, must now make a sworn statement if intending to self-describe as non-binary.
In March, Patton warned all police in a separate email that any breach of the force’s disciplinary code would not be tolerated.
He insisted that police would be dismissed if found to be involved in drug-taking, sexual harassment, family violence or unauthorised access of information from police databases.
He revealed 17 officers had been dismissed for misconduct over the past year, and a further 31 resigned while under investigation when they saw the “writing on the wall”.
“I want to be crystal clear. No one in this organisation is above the law,” he wrote in an email to officers across the state. “In fact, I would go as far as saying I have higher expectations for Victoria police employees than I have for anyone else.”
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