Last updated 20 January 2017
Some important features of the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) are:
- independence of government
- accountability primarily to the parliament
- wide responsibilities and extensive powers
- responsibilities of preventing and investigating major crime and misconduct.
The CCC must, in all its functions, act independently, impartially and fairly having regard to the purposes of the Crime and Corruption Act 2001 (Qld) (Crime and Corruption Act) and the importance of protecting the public interest (s 57 Crime and Corruption Act).
The functions and responsibilities of the CCC are set out in the Crime and Corruption Act. The main purposes of the Crime and Corruption Act are:
- to combat and reduce the incidence of major crime
- to continuously improve the integrity of, and to reduce the incidence of corruption in, the public sector.
The Crime and Corruption Act also has as the purpose to facilitate CCC involvement in confiscation related investigations. In addition to its responsibilities to prevent and investigate crime and corruption, the CCC is also empowered to undertake research and intelligence activities to support its functions (ss 52–53 Crime and Corruption Act). A primary focus of the CCC is to assist government units to build capacity to prevent misconduct and to empower units to assume responsibility for dealing with complaints independently.
Unit of public administration
The CCC has a role in dealing with disciplinary complaints only in relation to a unit of public administration. A unit of public administration basically describes a Queensland public service department, the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, the Executive Council, the police service, the courts, some state-funded corporate and non-corporate bodies and other entities prescribed by legislation (s 20 Crime and Corruption Act).
Making a complaint
Under s 41 of the Crime and Corruption Act, the Police Commissioner is responsible for investigating all complaints of police misconduct and corrupt conduct by police referred to the police service by the CCC.
In relation to other public service entities, a public official (e.g. the chief executive of the relevant unit of public administration) is responsible for investigating complaints involving official misconduct referred to them by the CCC (s 43 Crime and Corruption Act). Section 44 of the Crime and Corruption Act deals with procedures and power with regard to how complaints are managed.
Pursuant to s 45 of the Crime and Corruption Act, the CCC has primary responsibility for investigating complaints of corrupt conduct and monitoring how the Police Commissioner deals with complaints of police misconduct. The CCC also has a monitoring role over complaints of corrupt conduct handled by public service units, as well as the power to issue advisory guidelines about the way an investigation should be conducted, review or audit the investigation or take over the investigation. In addition, the CCC has a monitoring role for both police misconduct and corrupt conduct complaints (ss 46–48 Crime and Corruption Act).
The CCC may refer complaints of corrupt conduct to the public service unit and to the Police Commissioner if it involves criminal activity. Once the complaint has been referred, it is the responsibility of the Police Commissioner or public service unit Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to respond to the complainant with reasons for action or non-action and any subsequent results of the action taken.
If the CCC considers that prosecution or disciplinary action is warranted, it may report to (s 49 Crime and Corruption Act):
- the Director of Public Prosecutions or other prosecuting authority
- the Chief Justice, Chief Judge, President of the Childrens Court or Chief Magistrate if it relates to a judicial officer of the relevant court jurisdiction
- the CEO of a unit of public administration.
In addition to the abovementioned powers, the CCC itself may prosecute a person for official misconduct in a misconduct tribunal.
The CCC, Police Commissioner and public service unit CEO may take no action or discontinue action if it considers the complaint is frivolous or vexatious, lacking in substance or credibility, or the investigation would be an unjustifiable use of resources (ss 42(3), 44(3) Crime and Corruption Act). Additionally, pursuant to s 46(2)(g) of the Crime and Corruption Act, the CCC may take no action or discontinue action if it is satisfied that the complaint:
- is frivolous or vexatious
- lacks substance or credibility
- is not made in good faith
- is made primarily for a mischievous purpose
- is made recklessly or maliciously.
And dealing with the complaint:
- would not be in the public interest
- would be an unjustifiable use of resources.
And the subject matter of the complaint:
- is not within the commission’s functions
- has been dealt with by another entity.
The powers of the Crime and Corruption Commission
According to the Crime and Corruption Act, the CCC has extensive powers while investigating complaints, to:
- require information or documents, to produce a document or thing or discover a document or thing (s 72)
- enter official premises (s 73)
- apply to a magistrate or the Supreme Court for a warrant to enter, search and seize (s 86)
- require a person to attend before the CCC (ss 82, 83)
- require a person to attend before the CCC immediately if approved by the Supreme Court (s 85)
- apply to a magistrate for a warrant to arrest a person (s 167)
- apply to the Supreme Court for a warrant to use a surveillance device (s 121)
- apply to a Supreme Court judge for an order directing a financial institution to give information to the CCC about a named person (monitoring order application) (ch 3 pt 5A).
These powers vary according to whether the investigation relates to criminal offences or corrupt conduct (ss 72–175 Crime and Corruption Act) and are subject to a claim of privilege in certain circumstances.
The Queensland Government has enacted the Telecommunications Interception Act 2009 (Qld) to enhance law enforcement in Queensland by enabling the police service and the CCC to be declared agencies under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (Cth). This permits the Queensland Police Service and the CCC to use telecommunications interception as a tool for the investigation of serious offences.
Public Interest Monitor
The Crime and Corruption Act establishes the position of Public Interest Monitor to oversee applications for use of a surveillance device and to monitor the use and effectiveness of the approvals (ss 324–328 Crime and Corruption Act). The Public Interest Monitor is required to report annually to the minister for tabling in parliament on the use of the approvals.