The Victoria Police have launched an internal investigation at the force’s Frankston station after learning that male officers have been “faking” a non-binary identity in order to take advantage of a bonus clothing allowance.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, accusations were first made public on X (formerly Twitter) in June by Discernable, an alternative news outlet:
“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’,” wrote Discernable, adding that: “Members have confirmed that they will receive an extra ~$1,300 per year as a result of doing so and that it appears in their pay as a clothing allowance.”
Under the force’s current civilian clothing scheme, male officers can claim up to $2,554 in clothing expenses, while “non-men” and women can claim $3,674.
One user on X who goes by the handle @Voice4Victoria responded to the news outlet’s post clarifying that the officer’s alleged goal was to send a stern message to the police force, not the LGBT community:
“This is intended to be a f**k you to the organization only [and] not the LGBTQI+ community. This is what happens when staff are left under-resourced, overworked & underappreciated for too long. Would expect the union also has no idea how to handle this situation.”
After noticing an increase in the number of officers identifying as non-binary over the last year, Chief Commissioner Shane Patton reportedly launched an investigation, interviewing officers involved in the incident. In addition, Patton issued a search warrant at a Southern Region police station on July 21.
“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 behavior outlined in our code of conduct and Victoria Police values,” explained Patton in a statement.
“This behavior has had a significant impact on our [gender-diverse] employees and our reputation among the Victorian LGBTIQ+ community,” He continued. “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.”
Three years ago, the force introduced an option for officers to self-describe to show support for its “gender diverse employees.” Now, in response to the investigation, the force is cracking down on its previous act of good faith by requiring all officers intending to identify as non-binary to make a sworn statement.
News.com.au also points out that in its annual report last year, Victoria Police only had 32 employees who do not identify as male or female. Shockingly, as of June 27 this year, the number has increased to 139, 127 of whom are sworn law-enforcement officers.