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Crime and Misconduct Commission and Australian Crime Commission 

Legal Information

Crime and Misconduct Commission

What is the Crime and Misconduct Commission?

The Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) has the following objectives:

  1. To investigate organised crime, paedophilia, terrorist activity and other serious crime referred for investigation.
  2. To work with public sector agencies, including the Queensland Police Service (QPS), to fight misconduct, including corruption.
  3. To investigate cases of potentially serious misconduct.
  4. To help recover the proceeds of crime for the people of Queensland.
  5. To provide the witness protection service for the state of Queensland.
  6. To conduct research on crime, policing and public policy matters.

Who exactly does the CMC investigate?

The CMC investigates police misconduct and official misconduct in:

  • state government departments, statutory bodies and agencies
  • organisations which are funded by the state
  • state run prisons and private prisons operating in Queensland
  • state run schools and universities
  • elected officials, including state government politicians and local government councillors
  • Queensland Police Service (QPS).

What is the difference between official misconduct and police misconduct?

Official misconduct looks at the way a public official performed their job. A state organisation or a state official might be guilty of official misconduct if they were:

  • dishonest or biased
  • breached trust placed in them; or
  • misused officially obtained information.

Official misconduct also includes behaviour by anyone who tries to corrupt a public officer.

To amount to official misconduct, the conduct must also be a criminal offence or serious enough to sack the official. It does not include a public servant who was rude or inefficient.

The CMC cannot investigate politicians unless the matter could possibly be a criminal offence. This is because a politician can only be sacked by the people at an election, unless they are convicted of a crime.

Police misconduct is any behaviour (apart from official misconduct) that is disgraceful, improper or inappropriate by a police officer, or shows they are not fit to be a police officer. Basically, police misconduct has to be below the standard of conduct the community reasonably expects of a police officer. Since 2002, the Crime and Misconduct Commission doesn't handle complaints about police misconduct. The Queensland Police Service (QPS) now deals with police misconduct, but the Police Commission has to let the CMC know that a complaint was made. The CMC does however keep an eye on the QPS internal complaints process to make sure the complaint is dealt with properly.

How do I make a complaint to the CMC?

To make a complaint to the Crime and Misconduct Commission, you can:

Can my complaint be anonymous?

Yes, but that might make it harder for the CMC to investigate your claims, and they won't be able to tell you the result of their investigation. Even if you do give the CMC your name, it is not likely that your name would be made public.

Will I be told what happened with my complaint?

Yes, unless you made it anonymously.

What will the CMC do with my complaint?

The CMC assesses every complaint, but if the issue is not something to do with major crime or misconduct, they might refer your complaint to another organisation that can help.

If it is a matter they can deal with, the CMC will then decide whether to get a state organisation which is involved (eg the organisation which employs the public servant who is accused of misconduct) to take action, or the CMC will investigate it themselves. Even if the CMC sends the complaint to the agency involved to deal with, the CMC will keep an eye on what happens to make sure the complaint is dealt with properly.

Can I trust the CMC to do the right thing?

Several organisations keep a check on the CMC. These include:

  • The Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee (PCMC)
  • The Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner
  • The Supreme Court
  • The Public Interest Monitor
  • The media.

What if I am the one being complained about?

The CMC will contact you for your side of the story. You should get legal advice before talking to the CMC.

What happens if the CMC finds there is misconduct?

The CMC only investigates and makes recommendations about what should happen to the organisation or public official. It cannot find a state organisation or a public servant guilty of a crime. Only a court does that. CMC cannot discipline anyone for misconduct either.

The CMC can recommend:

  • that a public servant be prosecuted for a crime
  • that the public official's employer discipline them
  • that an organisation change it's processes

If my complaint is not proved, what happens?

If your complaint was investigated but there wasn't enough evidence to prove misconduct, nothing will happen.

If your complaint was investigated and found to be trivial or malicious, nothing will be done to the official you complained about. Anyone who knowingly makes a false complaint to the Crime and Misconduct Commission or the Queensland Police Service may be prosecuted. False complaints are treated seriously because they waste public money and unfairly damage reputations.

How does the CMC investigate and keep an eye on organised crime?

The CMC also helps to prevent major crime and misconduct by:

  • analysing the results of investigations
  • analysing the systems used in public organisations
  • reporting on ways to prevent major crime and misconduct
  • making recommendations based on the findings to the public sector.

What if I am called as a witness by the CMC?

The CMC has the power to conduct ‘coercive hearings’. This means that if you are called to a CMC hearing as a witness, it is an offence to refuse to:

  • answer questions
  • produce documents or other materials when requested
  • take an oath.

The penalty for this type of offence is mandatory imprisonment.

For the first offence, the length of imprisonment will be a term decided by the courts. For a second offence relating to a hearing dealing with the same subject matter, the length of imprisonment will be a minimum of 2 years and 6 months. For any subsequent offence relating to a hearing dealing with the same subject matter, the length of imprisonment will be a minimum of 5 years.

You do have a right to legal representation and an interpreter if you need one.

If you’ve been called as a witness by the CMC, you should get legal advice immediately.

You can apply for financial help from the Department of Justice and Attorney General for legal services in relation to attendance at a Crime and Misconduct Commission crime investigation hearing. The application form is available on the Department of Justice and Attorney General website.

Who qualifies for witness protection?

Anyone who helped a law enforcement agency and is in danger because of doing that. Witness protection is not just limited to witnesses for court cases.

Australian Crime Commission

What is the Australian Crime Commission?

The Australian Crime Commission (ACC) is a national statutory authority created to combat serious and organised crime. The ACC provides intelligence, investigation and criminal database services.

The ACC has wide powers to obtain information that cannot be accessed through traditional policing methods.

What if I am called as a witness by the ACC?

The ACC has the power to summon witnesses before an Examiner to give evidence or to provide documents or other materials to the Examiner as part of an investigation.

The ACC has ‘coercive hearing’ powers. This means that if you are called to appear as a witness before an Australian Crime Commission Examiner, it is an offence to refuse to:

  • appear before the Examiner
  • give evidence
  • provide documents or other things to the Examiner, if requested.

The penalty for this type of offence is usually imprisonment.

If you are appearing before the ACC as a witness, you should get legal advice.

You can apply to the Commonwealth Attorney-General for help with your legal costs. To apply for legal financial assistance, you can:

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    Do I need legal advice?

    You may need legal advice if you

    • are being investigated by the CMC for misconduct
    • are called as a witness before a sitting of the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC)
    • are called as a witness before a sitting of the Australian Crime Commission (ACC).
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    Where can I get legal advice

    Legal Aid Queensland cannot give legal advice to public officials being investigated by the Crime and Misconduct Commission for misconduct.

    Legal Aid Queensland may give legal advice if you have been called as a witness before a sitting of the CMC or the ACC.

    If you are being investigated by the CMC for a complaint of misconduct, you should speak to a private solicitor who works in this area of law.

    Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor who can provide advice and representation.

     

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    Who else can help?

    These organisations may also be able to help with your matter. They do not provide legal advice.

    Queensland Police Service Headquarters investigate complaints about police misconduct and breaches of discipline. Internal complaints process is monitored by the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

    Australian Crime Commission collects and disseminates criminal intelligence and undertakes criminal investigations.

    Crime and Misconduct Commission investigates complaints about official misconduct, even where the original complaint has been made to Queensland Police. Monitors police internal complaints process and can take over investigations if necessary, but does not handle complaints about police misconduct directly.

    Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee (PCMC) monitors and reviews the performance of the CMC.  

    Queensland Courts provide information on Supreme court, Court of Appeal, district court, magistrates court, Coroners court, Childrens court of Queensland, Land court.

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    Disclaimer - Copyright © 1997 Legal Aid Queensland. This content is provided as an information source only and is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should seek legal advice from a lawyer. Legal Aid Queensland believes the information is accurate as at 2 April 2014 but accepts no responsibility for any errors or omissions and denies all liability for any expenses, losses, damages and costs you might incur due to the information being inaccurate or incomplete in any way.



    Last modified: 2 April 2014 4:33PM
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    Crime and Misconduct Commission and Australian Crime Commission