“Since commencing as CCC Chairperson, I have been struck by the breadth of the CCC’s activities and the dedication and skill of its staff...The agency brings together under one roof the necessary tools, expertise and unique powers to enable us to meet our important statutory obligations of combating major crime and reducing corruption in the public sector.”
---Chairperson Alan MacSporran QC
On 1 September 2015, Alan MacSporran QC commenced as Chairperson of the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC). Mr MacSporran was an experienced barrister, former Crown Prosecutor and had previously served as the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Commissioner between 2004 and 2009.
Focus on excessive use of force
On 10 September 2015, Mr MacSporran announced that the use of force by police officers and the police discipline system would be a focus of his chairmanship at the CCC. He also announced that the CCC would explore a range of options for stronger oversight of allegations of excessive use of force.
In 2015-16, the CCC reviewed 32 matters that were under investigation by the QPS at that time, which involved allegations of excessive use of force. The CCC commenced an investigation into an additional eight matters.
Achievements during the financial year
In 2015-16, the CCC received 2674 complaints of corrupt conduct, involving 6736 separate allegations of corruption representing a 12 per cent increase compared with the previous financial year. Of these complaints, 64 per cent related to police and 36 per cent related to public sector agencies, including local governments. The CCC retained 73 matters for investigation.
Throughout the 2015-16 financial year, the CCC finalised 59 major crime investigations and 57 corruption investigations.
Other highlights during 2015-16 included:
- 81 people being charged with 655 criminal offences resulting from our major crime investigations
- Forfeiting over $10M to the State
- Restraining $19.05M in assets
- Seizing $1.59M worth of drugs
- Holding 334 hearing days relating to major crime, including 55 days of intelligence hearings
- 11 people being charged with 104 criminal offences resulting from our corruption investigations
- Holding five days of hearings relating to corruption
- 63 recommendations for disciplinary action against 23 people
- Admitting 44 people to the witness protection program.
Also in 2015–16, the CCC produced 108 classified intelligence reports on major crime in Queensland, with the majority disseminated to a range of state, commonwealth and international agencies. The CCC also disseminated six strategic intelligence reports on emerging crime trends and issues to both law enforcement and government audiences.
Case study: Officer charged over assault in watch-house
A female prisoner was in custody at the Caboolture watch-house when a police officer entered the cell to remove toilet paper that the prisoner had placed over the monitoring camera. An incident occurred and it was alleged the officer gouged the prisoner in the eye then allegedly cut the webbing between her fingers with the cell keys he was holding. While the matter was initially referred to the QPS to deal with, it was identified as one of several cases in which the CCC was not satisfied with the QPS investigation.
This matter involved a case of assault but was only dealt with by way of disciplinary action and the officer received a conditional suspended demotion for 12 months. The matter also involved allegations that numerous QPS officers failed to report the incident and that appropriate reporting mechanisms were not followed. The CCC reviewed the matter and later charged the officer with assault occasioning bodily harm.
A focus on cold-call investment fraud (Operation Sterling)
Cold-call investment frauds (CCIF) were targeted by the CCC in 2015-16.
The CCC and the QPS commenced Operation Sterling to gather intelligence on the activities of 11 cold-call investment fraud operations and criminal organisations that operated on the Gold Coast, in Brisbane and overseas.
Intelligence hearings revealed that some of the 11 networks examined had been active in Australia from 1994 to 2014-15, and that five had direct links with Australian organised crime identities or outlaw motorcycle gangs.
It was estimated that more than 113 separate fraudulent schemes had been conducted in Queensland by these syndicates over that time — not including schemes controlled by these syndicates and located offshore. The total loss to victims from those 11 networks was conservatively valued at $175.715M.
The intelligence was shared with the law enforcement community.
CCC illicit report warns Queenslanders about organised crime
In June 2016, the CCC published a report titled Illicit drug markets in Queensland: 2015–16 intelligence assessment to alert the community to the changing dynamics within Queensland drug markets.
It was determined that the demand for illicit drugs, and the potential profits from supplying them, had made Queensland an attractive market for interstate and international crime groups. Since 2012, there had been greater targeting of regional areas such as Toowoomba, Mackay, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Townsville and Cairns, especially by interstate groups.
Two major CCC operations which targeted illicit drugs are outlined below.
Operations Gloss and Amulet
Operations Gloss and Amulet resulted in 136 and 94 charges respectively, which related to trafficking, production and supply of dangerous drugs.
Operation Gloss dismantled an interstate network alleged to be producing and trafficking ice in New South Wales and on the Gold Coast. The operation resulted in laboratories and drugs being seized in both states, and the seizing of dangerous drugs including cocaine, ice and precursor chemicals with a street value of $3.9M.
As a result of Operation Amulet, the CCC and Queensland Police Service (QPS) seized:
- more than one million dollars in cash
- three automatic weapons
- five hand guns and
- a quantity of drugs and mobile phones.
Operation Amulet targeted a criminal syndicate allegedly trafficking ice, cocaine, MDMA and other drugs throughout the Gold Coast region and South East Queensland over an extended period of time.
Its main target was allegedly a patched member of the Hells Angels OMCG, who faced 31 charges, including the serious drug offence of trafficking which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment.
For more information on the CCC’s work during 2015-16, view the Annual Report here.