Last updated 15 August 2022
Disciplinary offences are different from criminal offences. When the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) has evidence that a criminal offence has been committed by a police officer or any other public official, the evidence is referred by the CCC to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for prosecution in the courts.
Accordingly, disciplinary offences are dealt with differently. They are concerned with a person’s fitness for continued employment or provide other sanctions to punish their behaviour. A person can be both prosecuted for a criminal offence and charged with a disciplinary offence arising out of the same facts and circumstances.
The various laws dealing with disciplinary offences recognise three types of punishable behaviour:
- corrupt conduct
- police misconduct
- disciplinary breaches.
See s 15 of the Crime and Corruption Act 2001 (Qld) (Crime and Corruption Act) for an in-depth definition of corrupt conduct. In short, it includes the conduct of a person regardless of whether the person holds or held an appointment, and it is aimed at ensuring public confidence in the public sector.
Police misconduct is defined in sch 2 of the Crime and Corruption Act and means conduct, other than corrupt conduct, of a police officer that:
- is disgraceful, improper or unbecoming a police officer
- shows unfitness to be or continue as a police officer
- does not meet the standard of conduct the community reasonably expects of a police officer.
Breaches of discipline that do not amount to police misconduct or official misconduct are dealt with within the relevant department or authority.
The grounds for disciplinary action may relate to:
- unfitness, incompetence or inefficiency in the discharge of the duties of an officer’s position
- a contravention of, or failure to comply with, a provision of a code of conduct or any direction, instruction or order given by, or caused to be issued by, the commissioner under the Police Service Administration Act 1990 (Qld) (PSA Act) or a senior officer with authority to give the direction
- absence from duty except upon approved leave and with reasonable excuse
- conviction in Queensland of an indictable offence or, outside Queensland, of an offence which, if it had been committed in Queensland, would have been an indictable offence (s 7.4 PSA Act).