“Our work in this area — combating paedophiles who use the Internet to meet children — is particularly challenging. It involves operating on a new frontier of law enforcement in the rapidly changing communication medium of the Internet. It requires the development not only of innovative investigative methodologies but also of specialist technical expertise. The CMC is rising to the challenge.”
---Chairperson Brendan Butler SC.
The commencement on 1 January 2003 of the Criminal Proceeds Confiscation Act 2002 added a powerful weapon to the CMC’s crime-fighting armoury. The Act gave Queensland a civil confiscation scheme (administered by the CMC) that enabled the proceeds of illegal activity to be recovered, whether or not the owner of the property was convicted of any illegal activity.
The Criminal Proceeds Confiscation Act 2002 enhanced the CMC’s ability to dismantle organised crime.
In 2002-2003, the CMC:
- Conducted the first accredited witness protection course for police officers to be offered in Australia.
- Began four investigations into organised crime, completed five and continued 12 with a focus on drug offending and associated money laundering.
- Began seven paedophilia investigations, and continued four investigations related to Internet-based offending and networked extra familial offending. These related to Internet-based offending (Atrax) and networked extrafamilial offending (Artemis).
- Commenced seven serious crime investigations, continued six, and completed three.
- Identified 33 crime targets, of which 18 concerned organised crime, seven criminal paedophilia, and eight were misconduct-related.
- Received 2,920 misconduct complaints and finalised 155 investigations into misconduct. 22 per cent recommended criminal or disciplinary action.
- Launched a web portal containing resources in the fight against paedophilia.
- Established an independent internal audit function, which reported directly to the Chairperson.
Significant legislative changes to the Criminal Code
In May 2003 it became an offence under the Criminal Code for a person to use the Internet with intent to procure a child to engage in a sexual act, or to expose a child to any indecent matter. This change enhanced the CMC’s ability to proactively target paedophiles.
Providing the relevant intent was proven, it did not matter if the ‘child’ with whom the communication took place was a fictitious person; the provision placed the onus on the person initiating the communication to prove that they did not believe they were communicating with a child. This amendment enhanced the CMC’s ability to proactively identify and arrest people attempting to use the Internet to prey on children. By making no distinction between an actual child or a police officer masquerading as a child, the amendment enabled the CMC to act before a child came to any harm. That year the CMC’s work led to the discovery of an international network of paedophiles, and enabled officials in the United States and the United Kingdom to pursue and arrest suspected offenders.
Conduct of police in handling of Volkers case
In September 2002, the CMC was asked to examine a controversial decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to cease criminal proceedings against well-known Australian swimming coach, Scott Volkers.
A full investigation was launched amid allegations of secret undertakings, police incompetence and political involvement.
To obtain the widest contribution from relevant stakeholders, the CMC conducted public hearings over two days in November 2002, calling 21 witnesses. Written submissions were received from eight government departments and agencies, 10 legal organisations, 10 community organisations, two media groups, three academics and 39 individuals.
Although the CMC found no evidence of official misconduct or police misconduct, it recommended disciplinary and managerial action for two of the investigating police officers.
The Volkers case: Examining the conduct of the police and prosecution was published by the CMC in March 2003. The case prompted the CMC to look at wider issues concerning how the Queensland criminal justice system was handling sexual offences.
CMC investigation results in conviction of former Queensland Chief Magistrate
In June 2003, Queensland’s Chief Magistrate, Diane Fingleton, was jailed on the charge of retaliating against a witness.
The CMC was involved in this matter insofar as it was a CMC investigation that led to the DPP charging Ms Fingleton. The investigation was sparked by a complaint from Magistrate Gribbin, who alleged that the Chief Magistrate had improperly attempted to remove him from his position as a coordinating magistrate because he had supported another magistrate in a dispute she was having with Ms Fingleton.
In June 2003, the Court of Appeal dismissed Ms Fingleton’s appeal against conviction, but also effectively reduced her time in prison by two months. An appeal was being progressed to the High Court at the end of the 2002-2003 financial year.
Methamphetamine remains top concern for Queensland
A 20-page crime bulletin on amphetamine, published in June 2003, reaffirmed the status of amphetamine as the primary illicit drug of concern to the Queensland community. In 2002, the CMC collaborated with Queensland Health to survey 690 amphetamine users in Queensland, providing a significant sample of users. This data would inform a series of upcoming reports.
For more information, read the CMC Annual Report 2002-03.