“Our public hearings as part of Operation Belcarra prompted swift action to strengthen equity, integrity and accountability in the local government sector. The CCC’s public report on Operation Belcarra included 31 recommendations for reform and led to the Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 1 of Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 being passed in Parliament on 17 May 2018.”
---Chairperson Alan MacSporran QC
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed to reform the police discipline system in Queensland
In 2017–18, a significant move forward was achieved through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to reform the police discipline system in Queensland. The MOU, along with other reforms pursued over the last few years, would strengthen the police disciplinary system by having a system that is timely, consistent and fair but remains subject to oversight by the CCC.
State-wide information sessions were held to ensure that all police staff were informed of the changes to the system prior to them taking effect. The key features of the new framework include improved timeliness and consistency for disciplinary matters for QPS officers and complainants and a remedial focus for disciplinary matters, with an emphasis on identifying and correcting inappropriate conduct early. The system aimed to ensure disciplinary investigations will be shorter and more targeted.
In October 2017, stakeholders involved in the process to improve the police discipline system publicly committed to the reforms. A joint press conference was held to outline the reforms and it was attending by:
• CCC Chairperson, Alan MacSporran QC
• Commissioner of Police, Ian Stewart APM
• Assistant Commissioner Ethical Standards Command, Clem O’Reagan APM
• General President and CEO of the Queensland Police Union, Mr Ian Leavers
• QLD Police Commissioned Officers Union of Employees, Inspector Chris Hobbs
• Minister for Police, Fire & Emergency Services and Minister for Corrective Services The Hon. Mark Ryan MP.
• Shadow Minister for Police, Fire & Emergency Services; Shadow Minister for Corrective Services Mr Tim Mander MP.
Police use of force in Queensland watch-houses
In line with the CCC’s ongoing focus on excessive use of force by police, in December 2017 we released a public report entitled Police use of force in Queensland watch-houses. Use of force in watch-houses is typically hidden from the public eye and may constitute a serious abuse of power. The CCC’s report examined use of force in five watch-houses, and detailed six recommendations and the response to those recommendations by the QPS.
The CCC’s other achievements in 2017-18 included:
• Charging 22 people with 129 criminal offences relating to crime investigations
• Holding 259 hearing days relating to crime investigations
• Seizing drugs worth approximately $203,675
• Restraining assets to the value of $9.7M
• Forfeiting assets to the State valued at $9.4M
• Receiving 3098 complaints which contained 8862 allegations of corruption
• Charging 38 people with 176 criminal offences relating to corruption investigations
• Holding 63 days of hearings in relating to corruption investigations
• Making 19 recommendations for disciplinary action from CCC corruption investigations relating to seven people
• 31 recommendations arising from Operation Belcarra
• Live-streaming 13 days of public hearings for Taskforce Flaxton
• Completing five corruption audits.
Additionally, corruption prevention continued to be a flagship program, raising public sector awareness of corruption risks via public hearings, reports, advisories and recommendations for legislative change. The CCC also funded a survey, in partnership with Griffith University and Transparency International, to obtain Queenslander’s views on corruption.
Significant crime investigations targeted ice and other illicit drugs, the activities of outlaw motorcycle gangs and suspected criminal activity within the legal profession.
Investigations into corruption focused on excessive use of force, misuse of confidential information and fraud.
Collaboration with Queensland Directors-General to prevent corruption
To mark International Anti-Corruption Day 2017, the Chairperson and senior executives from the CCC met with Directors-General and Deputy Directors-General from across the Queensland public sector to discuss integrity and corruption prevention.
During that meeting, all parties recognised that corruption prevention was the joint responsibility of public sector agencies and the CCC, and that senior executives were critical in setting the ethical culture of an organisation.
Reforming local government in Queensland: Operation Belcarra
In October 2017, the CCC published a public report arising from Operation Belcarra, its public hearing into local government triggered by complaints following the local government elections in March 2016. The report addressed issues of equity, transparency, integrity and accountability in local government, and recommended extensive reform in the local government sector with the dual purpose of decreasing corruption risks and increasing public confidence.
The Government endorsed all recommendations, supporting some in full and others in principle.
A number of the recommendations relating to gifts from developers, and potential conflict of interest issues for councillors, were incorporated into the Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 1 of Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018, which commenced on 21 May 2018.
Corruption risks in Queensland correctional facilities: Taskforce Flaxton
The CCC launched Taskforce Flaxton in March 2018 to examine corruption in Queensland’s 14 correctional centres, including two privately operated facilities, as well as several low-security work camps.
Taskforce Flaxton identified ways to prevent, identify and respond to corrupt conduct and ultimately improve safety for staff, prisoners and visitors in these facilities.
A total of 33 public submissions were received. A public hearing commenced on 14 May 2018 and ran for 13 days. During this period 30 witnesses, including former prisoners, current and former staff, and representatives of non-government organisations with an interest in prison management, gave evidence.
The CCC issued a public report on the outcomes of Taskforce Flaxton in December 2018.
Investigating allegations against legal practitioners: Operation Octanda
Operation Octanda was a joint CCC and QPS investigation that commenced in September 2016 into suspected criminal activity involving a legal firm in Queensland.
It concerned alleged cash payments made by clients to lawyers who were then alleged to have misappropriated the payments without depositing the money into a trust account, in accordance with legislative requirements. The investigation revealed an alleged motive by certain members of a law firm to conceal from a number of entities (their trustees in bankruptcy, AUSTRAC, CCC, the ATO, and the firm itself) cash payments made by certain clients.
The CCC’s coercive hearings power was used in the investigation to obtain evidence of the alleged cash payments and financial analysis was undertaken to support that evidence. The investigation was finalised in November 2017. In 2017–18, four people were charged with 12 offences (11 fraud offences and one perjury offence), bringing the total to five people charged with 21 offences since the commencement of the operation.
In July 2017 one man was convicted and received a head sentenced of 5.5 years imprisonment for his role in the alleged criminal activity. The other matters continued to progress through the courts.
Improving staff capability, engagement and performance
In 2017-18, the CCC invested $341,000 in developing staff capability to continue to develop its workforce through leadership and mentoring programs, talent management and mobility initiatives. As a values-driven organisation, the CCC is focused on improving how the agency works together and shares knowledge.
In partnership with the Queensland Public Service Commission (PSC), the CCC developed a Leadership Capability Roadmap that articulated how it would develop adaptive, courageous and innovative staff who could transition to the next level of leadership.
In December 2017, the CCC launched its Leadership Development Program (LDP), targeting key capabilities for CCC leaders and managers. The program focused on:
• managing organisational performance
• leading change with agility
• engaging with ideas, innovation and risk and
• navigating complex, ambiguous and political environments.
Also in December 2017, the CCC launched a mentoring program for its lawyers and investigators and provided 21 staff with assistance for tertiary education.
For more information on the CCC’s work during 2017-18, view our Annual Report here.