Francis Bischof

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Bischof in 1931
Francis Bischof in 1951

Francis (Frank) Erich Bischof (12 October 1904 - 28 August 1979) was a police commissioner in the Australian state of Queensland from January 1958 until his resignation, on the 13 February 1969, amidst allegations of corruption. His early career was marked a high rate of success, yet 'the Big Man' was viewed as a politically sensitive and partisan appointment.[1]


Frank Bischof was born near Toowoomba, Queensland on 12 October 1904 and grew up on a dairy farm. He worked in a cheese factory before joining the Queensland Police Force in 1925. He married Dorothy Gledhill on 22 February 1930 at St Mary's Anglican Church in Alderley, Brisbane.

Stationed with the Criminal Investigation Branch in the Brisbane, he was promoted to sergeant in 1939 and inspector in 1949. He studied in Britain (including Scotland Yard) and Europe, returning to Australia in 1950 and investigating the Bulimba elections fraud. Described as 'the Big Fella' (6 ft 2 ins and 16 stone) he gained thirty-two convictions in thirty-three murder investigations. In 1955 he became head of the C.I.B.

In January 1958 he became Commissioner of Police, appointed by the Premier, Frank Nicklin. The appointment was criticised by the Labor Party (then in opposition) as a political appointment and that at least two other officers were more suitable.[1]

As commissioner he set about boosting police morale and the image they portrayed to the Queensland public. He implemented a series of transfers, promotions, and a Public Relations Bureau as part of his plans. Bischof frequented many public functions encouraging their cooperation and support with the Queensland Police.

Tony Fitzgerald QC, who between 1987 and 1989 headed a commission of inquiry into corruption in Queensland, commented on page 31 of his report that Bischof's appointment was seen by many to reflect an upturn in the fortunes of a Masonic cabal to the disadvantage of a "Green Mafia", particularly since he was appointed over the head of the more senior James Edward Donovan, a Catholic.

Fitzgerald's report says: " some respects police corruption had acquired a quaint quasi-legitimacy by the Bischof era. Numerous appointments to commissioned rank with suitable posting were made as retirements loomed, and it became traditional for a retirement to be accompanied by a send-off testimonial, which provided an opportunity for those with special reason for gratitude, such as hoteliers who had not been unduly harassed by strict enforcing of the licensing laws, to demonstrate their appreciation in a tangible way. Bischof himself was said to be deeply involved. One specific incident related in evidence concerned an occasion when he prevented a proposed undercover operation to apprehend the principal responsible for illegal baccarat games. He was also deduced by honest Licensing Branch police to have been the person who warned a country "SP" (starting price) bookmaker of an impending raid."[2]

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  1. ^ a b "Bischof, Francis Erich (Frank) (1904 - 1979) —". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 
  2. ^ pp 31/32 Report of a Commission of Inquiry Pursuant to Orders in Council. 1989.

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