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Detective Station Sergeant Hains

Community recognition for a local hero

As a community police officer you get to experience the best and worst of people, sometimes within hours or moments on a single day. It’s a challenging role, but one Detective Station Sergeant Harry Hains has relished for the past 28 years. This week, the community got to thank him for his service.

If you ask Detective Station Sergeant Hains, being part of the community is the best part of his job. “I feel a deep and enduring social contract with the people of the ACT and this is what drives me to provide the best policing service,” he said.

This commitment is why he established the ‘Ask a Cop’ initiative, which encourages young people to ask police about different aspects of the job, or any other law enforcement issue. It’s the only program of its kind in the ACT, and has been an enormously popular part of the Woden Youth Centre’s monthly program.

Each month, Harry and other officers visit the youth centre to play pool and chat with anyone who’s there. They also provide information on a range of topics, from what happens at search warrants to how you can join the AFP.

This week, the success of the program, and Harry’s role in bringing it to life, was recognised by the ACT Government. It awarded Detective Station Sergeant Hains the Community Protection Medal in recognition of his exceptional contribution to protecting the Canberra community.

At a ceremony at the National Arboretum, Member of the ACT Legislative Assembly Chris Steel presented the award on behalf of the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. He told the audience the recipients of the award embodied the ideal of commitment and dedication to the ACT community. “We should feel very grateful to these upstanding members of the community for their time, skill, effort and diligence,” Mr Steel said.

Detective Station Sergeant Harry Hains is interviewed by media after receiving his award
Detective Station Sergeant Harry Hains is interviewed by media after receiving his award.


The citation on Detective Station Sergeant Hains’ award is for his sustained, distinguished and outstanding service to the ACT, particularly in the fields of front line community policing, criminal investigations and community engagement over a significant period.

This kind of recognition is not something Detective Station Sergeant Hains expected when he began his career as a City Patrol Constable in 1990. After working as a beats cop, he gained his Detective’s Designation and worked on a range of criminal investigations, one of which inadvertently led him to a kind of fame.

Author Helen Garner wrote the book ‘Joe Cinque’s Consolation’ about a murder that took place in Canberra in 1997. The book was later turned into a film. As the lead detective on the case, Harry Hains features heavily in the book’s depiction of the investigation into the victim’s girlfriend, Anu Singh, and her subsequent trial. Anu Singh was found guilty of manslaughter and released from prison in 2001.

Detective Station Sergeant Hains was also a lead investigator into the tragic death of Katie Bender. The young girl was with thousands of other Canberrans on Lake Burley Griffin in 1997 to watch the demolition of the old Canberra Hospital. The explosion did not go as planned, and Katie died when she was hit by a piece of flying debris.

Portrait of Hains
Detective Station Sergeant Harry Hains

These types of investigation take a toll on police. But Detective Sergeant Hains says he tries not to dwell on the difficult aspects of his job. Instead, he focuses on working with others to build a better community. He is a strong advocate for the rights and protections of vulnerable members of the community and young people.

In this role, he undertook a critical review of how ACT Policing interacts and engages with youth, resulting in a reinvigorated model of policing to address issues of recidivism. The model also helps to better apply crime reduction strategies to address systemic problems.

Detective Sergeant Hains also works closely with his colleagues, mentoring and guiding many young detectives through complex investigations, as he sees it as an important part of his role. “I was very lucky to have some excellent, ethical police mentors over the years,” he said. “Working alongside these officers shaped me. In particular, Detective Commander Mark Johnsen, who sadly passed away in 2010, and my first Sergeant, Stephen Corrigan, had a huge influence on me.”

“I was fortunate to be partnered with Mark during my first days on the job in City Crime. He was a skilled Detective who taught me the value of tenacity. Steve taught me vital emergency management skills, and his ability to make valid, ethical decisions in time-critical situations was second to none.”

Detective Station Sergeant Hains also acknowledges the role his parents, Margot and Harry Snr played in shaping his view of the world. “My parents showed me, and my four siblings, how to be honourable and just every day,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of money, but Mum and Dad would go without themselves to provide a loving home where we were encouraged to not only achieve our potential, but were provided with a solid understanding and appreciation of social justice.” 

Detective Sergeant Hains’ family were with him at the Arboretum when he accepted his medal, along with other policing friends and colleagues, to acknowledge his decades of service to the community. We also thank him for his dedication and commitment.

ACT Policing staff came to support Detective Station Sergeant Harry Hains at the award ceremony.
ACT Policing staff came to support Detective Station Sergeant Harry Hains at the award ceremony.

Reporter Elizabeth Byrne prepared this report on Detective Station Sergeant Harry Hains for ABC TV Canberra.