Police hopefuls charged $300 just to apply
Thousands of hopeful Queensland Police Service recruits are being charged $215 to sit an exam before they can even apply to join the academy, it can be revealed.
The Courier-Mail has confirmed would-be recruit applicants are also being charged $88 for a package of practice tests in literacy, numeracy, abstract reasoning, digital literacy and writing.
The service used to pay for tests, which assessed cognitive and problem-solving abilities, but it has been outsourced with an expanded testing regime to include writing and digital literacy.
With thousands of recruit applicants every year, the move would save the service millions.
Commissioner Katarina Carroll said she made no apologies for introducing basic competency tests for skills needed for the job but Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said the "new sneaky and underhanded charges for police recruits are symptomatic of a dysfunctional police recruiting process".
"Charging any person over $300 just to apply to join Queensland Police Service reeks of cost-cutting," he told The Courier-Mail.
"The Queensland Police Union was yet again never consulted on these sneaky, unfair and outrageous changes by the police recruiting division and yet again these changes bizarrely occurred under a veil of extreme secrecy."
Unemployed Queenslanders and those impacted by business closures during COVID-19 were considering joining the service, Mr Leavers said.
"For the Queensland Police Service's recruiting division to impose upfront costs, paywalls, and hurdles upon these already desperate people is extremely ill-conceived," he said.
The changes come after The Courier-Mail revealed alleged female recruiting "irregularities" involving physical standards and psychological assessment aspects were under investigation in January.
The allegations, investigated by the Crime and Corruption Commission and the QPS, relate to a period after the service introduced a 50-50 gender recruitment target.
Ms Carroll said literacy, numeracy, abstract reasoning, digital literacy and writing skills were expected for all police recruits.
"It's no secret that the police recruiting division has faced various issues prior to my taking the helm as commissioner and I am committed to independent, transparent and impartial entry testing for all prospective police recruits," she said.
"Any changes are in line with best practice and come on the back of an inquiry by the Crime and Corruption Commission."
Ms Carroll said the public rightly expected "no favours or preferential treatment for any applicant" from the commissioner.
"When I was sworn in as commissioner I said that while it is always good to be inclusive and diverse, we should always take the best possible applicants regardless of their gender or ethnicity."
Applicants complete the QPS entrance assessment test via the Australian Council for Education Research. The service does not receive test money. Officers previously doing administrative duties would return to the frontline.
Ms Carroll said $300 was a small price to pay for a job that is "effectively for your entire career".
"It could potentially be a 40-year occupation so I make no apologies for that," she said.
"I also add the observation that while an individual should always seek their own financial advice, if I was accepted into the police service I would claim an expense like this as a tax deduction."
Mr Leavers said: "The Queensland Police Service always pays lip-service about inclusion and diversity yet here we see these exclusionary practices creating more barriers for prospective police recruits."
Ms Carroll said she had instructed the police recruiting division to consider waiving the $300 test fees and associated study materials for genuine hardship cases.
She said Queensland was one of the only jurisdictions where recruits were paid at the academy.
Originally published as Police hopefuls charged $300 just to apply