"All of the Commission’s functions have continued to refine and develop their operations… Highlights include … the increasing sophistication of the measures taken in relation to organised crime …”
---Sir Max Bingham, Chairperson
By the end of the 1991 - 1992 financial year, the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) described itself as:
“… presently one of the most scrutinised agencies in Queensland. It consistently receives close attention from the media, interest groups, the Parliament and the public, and is subject to very strong oversight and accountability measures set by legislation”.
In December 1991, the Parliamentary Criminal Justice Commission (PCJC) published its first major review of the CJC, the most comprehensive assessment of its actions and achievements to date. The report considered a wide range of issues and made numerous suggestions and recommendations concerning the CJC’s structure, powers, functions and priorities. Its overall evaluation of the Commission’s performance was very positive.
During this reporting period, aspects of the CJC’s work received considerable attention during parliamentary debate. The matter that received most attention was its report on Parliamentary travel entitlements, with other matters receiving attention being the Misconduct Tribunals and a report on prostitution.
In 1991 - 1992, the CJC had 263 staff with a wide range of expertise and experience.
Corruption reporting and prevention
The CJC’s annual report for 1991 - 1992 recorded that, between 22 April 1990 and 30 June 1992, it had received 5570 complaints containing just over 11,000 allegations. While members of the public remained the largest group of complainants, the Commission saw the increasing number of complaints made by police officers as a healthy sign that the police reform process was gathering pace.
However, the CJC was well aware that people would be reluctant to report corruption if they believed that reporting would lead to possible prejudice to their own careers or other adverse treatment. While acknowledging the whistleblower protection provisions of the Criminal Justice Act, the CJC also knew that legislation could not completely address the fear that subtle adverse pressure would be brought to bear on those reporting misconduct of colleagues, and recognised the need for further efforts in this area.
The CJC investigated or supervised the investigation of several cases in which civilians had been killed or injured as a result of police action. In all of these cases, the Commission found that the officers concerned were not guilty of any misconduct.
However, in view of the serious nature of the incidents and the prospect of real public concern if the investigation of such incidents was conducted internally by the QPS, the CJC determined that the procedures for its involvement in those investigations should be standardised. It proposed to the QPS that in such cases, or in any case in which a person died in police custody, it should be notified immediately. In every case, the Commission would investigate the matter itself or oversee the conduct of the investigation by the QPS.
This oversight of serious police incidents remains current practice at the CCC today.
Outcomes and achievements
In 1991 - 1992 the CJC’s Multi-disciplinary Teams, which investigated the more complex complaint matters and organised and major crime, undertook 315 investigations. As a result of these investigations:
- 325 criminal charges were recommended
- 9 disciplinary charges were recommended, and
- drugs with an estimated street value of $2.2 million were seized.
Assets totalling $7.5 million from seven investigations into drug-trafficking, money laundering and SP bookmaking were frozen as a result of restraining orders prepared by the Commission.
The CJC held 54 hearings in 1991-92. Most were conducted in private, but it held four public hearings. Two of these hearings into allegations relating to the Gold Coast City Council and Channel 7 accessing police diaries were continued from the previous year. The other two related to the Landsborough/Maroochy Water Board, and allegations of police misconduct reported by Kelvin Ronald Condren and others.
The matters raised by Kelvin Condren were the basis of a CJC report to Parliament in November 1992.
Among the CJC’s achievements for 1991 - 1992 were the publication of reports on prostitution, the completion of Queensland’s first survey of crime victims, a review of the QPS Information Bureau, and the preparation of a detailed description of the Queensland criminal justice system titled, Crime and Justice in Queensland.
The Commission also published five investigative reports on local government authorities, payments made by land developers, possible misuse of parliamentary travel entitlements, a public inquiry, and allegations of police misconduct.
In keeping with its philosophy of accountability to the people of Queensland, CJC publications were widely distributed throughout Queensland, other Australian states and overseas. At the request of the Auditor-General, copies of Complaints against local government authorities were distributed to appointed auditors throughout Queensland to assist them in identifying undesirable or improper practices during their audits of local authorities.
Read the Annual Report 1991 - 1992 to find out more about the CJC’s activities in 1991 - 1992.