The Devolution Principle
The CCC’s governing legislation, the Crime and Corruption Act 2001, provides that subject to the cooperation and public interest principles and the capacity of the agency, action to prevent and deal with corruption in an agency should generally happen in the agency.
This is known as ‘devolution’ and it is a key principle in combating public sector corruption in Queensland.
Devolution recognises the responsibility of a chief executive to set and maintain proper standards of conduct for their employees and, by so doing, maintain public confidence in their agency.
The application of the devolution principle provides agencies with an opportunity to demonstrate to the public and the CCC their ability to take timely, effective and decisive action when their staff fail to meet the required standards of conduct.
The CCC works with agencies, through its monitoring role and prevention function to build their capacity and accountability in managing corruption.
Devolution also allows the CCC to focus its resources on the most serious and systemic corruption matters.
Referring complaints to agencies
The practical effect of devolution means a complaint received by the CCC is not automatically investigated by us. We may refer it to the department, agency or council concerned, or to the Queensland Police Service to action.
When an agency is directed by the CCC to investigate a complaint, the agency must provide regular reports to the CCC and finalise the matter within a specified period of time.
If the CCC finds that the standard of an investigation or the outcome is not in its view satisfactory, then it can assume responsibility for dealing with the complaint.
How we assess complaints
The CCC assesses every complaint it receives to determine its level of seriousness and the response required. After assessment we will decide whether to:
- investigate the complaint ourselves or
- refer it to the agency concerned to be investigated by them or
- conduct a joint investigation with the agency or
- take no action if the complaint is outside the CCC’s jurisdiction or
- refer the matter to the Queensland Police Service if it involves alleged criminal conduct.
When the CCC receives a complaint, it is categorised as High, Medium or Low to rank how serious the allegation is, how quickly it must be actioned and determine who is best placed to investigate it.
Complaints categorised as High (that is, suspected serious and/or systemic corruption) include matters that:
- could be considered important to the Queensland community (for example, because of the status of the subject officer or the high value of an alleged fraud)
- require an immediate response from the CCC (for example, to secure at-risk evidence or attend the scene of the death or serious injury of a person in police custody)
- are considered to be high-impact and high-priority for the public sector, as they relate to central issues of management of the government or a particular agency
- have been identified by the CCC as involving serious or systemic corrupt conduct (for example, criminal offences involving abuse of office or the administration of justice, or involvement of police officers with drugs or criminals/organised crime).
What the CCC investigates itself
We only investigate complaints that have been categorised as High.
However, because of the large number of High category complaints we receive each year, we cannot investigate them all. We will generally investigate a complaint ourselves if one or more of the following features are present:
- the investigation would be assisted by, and justify, the use of our unique coercive powers;
- due to the nature of the complaint an investigation independent of government or political processes is desirable;
- public confidence in the impartiality of the investigation would be enhanced by a CCC investigation.
We refer all other complaints that are categorised as High and warrant investigation to the relevant agency concerned for them to investigate. We may also refer the complaint to the QPS if it involves alleged criminal conduct.
Referring complaints to the public sector
When the CCC refers a complaint to an agency, we use our monitoring powers to determine how the matter is being dealt with by the agency.
The CCC has three forms of monitoring:
- Matters that are being closely monitored must be completed by the agency within 12 months, with mandatory progress reports provided to the CCC at periods of six weeks, three months, six months and nine months from the case being referred to the agency. This is what the CCC calls a Public Interest Review.
- Outcome monitoring occurs once the agency has finalised its investigation and taken any disciplinary action, if appropriate. Agencies must also provide a progress report to the CCC at three months, and finalise the case within six months. This is what the CCC calls a Merit and Compliance Review.
- We may refer a complaint to an agency with no further advice required as to the outcome. These cases may be included in a future audit. Audits can tell us how agencies have responded to particular types of complaints and how robust their complaints management frameworks are.
The CCC has the ability to take over an investigation being conducted by an agency if it determines it is not being dealt with appropriately.
Referring complaints to other integrity agencies
Some allegations of wrong doing can be investigated by other integrity and oversight agencies under their own statutory framework. This group includes the Queensland Audit Office, the Queensland Ombudsman, the Office of the Health Ombudsman or the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning who are responsible for the investigation of councillor conduct which may come before the Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal.
Complaints dealt with in 2015–16
In 2015-16, we received 2674 complaints, involving 6736 separate allegations of corruption (64% about police, 36% about public sector agencies and local government).
Of those 2674 complaints, 402 were categorised as High.
- We assessed 99 as requiring no further action.
- We retained 73 (18%) of those complaints, and 230 were referred to the relevant agency to deal with (see table).
Of those 230 complaints referred to an agency to deal with, 118 complaints (29%) were subject to monitoring by the CCC.
The remaining 112 complaints categorised as High were referred to agencies to deal with no further advice required. These can be monitored by the CCC when it conducts an audit. In 2015–16 we audited 561 complaints.
The table below outlines how many complaints received by the CCC in 2015-16 were assessed as High, Medium and Low. The table also outlines how many complaints were retained for investigation, how many were referred to the relevant agency and which matters were subject to monitoring.
Complaints received by the CCC in 2015-16
|Monitoring||No further advice required from agency|
|Close monitoring||Outcome monitoring|
* This includes nine matters that the CCC initially referred to another agency to deal with subject to a review and the CCC subsequently assumed responsibility for the investigation.
** This includes matters that may not have been initially referred to the CCC prior to the matter being dealt with by the agency. A number of units of public administration are authorised to deal with low-level allegations of corrupt conduct without reporting them to the CCC.