“The need to foster a public sector of integrity is a continuing one. The protective and deterrent effect of a powerful investigative agency is necessary to achieving that. However, a truly ethical public sector is possible only if the hearts and minds of the vast majority of public employees are committed to that goal. In its second decade, the CJC must reach out to public sector managers and employees to win their support.”
---Chairperson Brendan Butler SC
Ten years after the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) commenced, Queensland was still the only state to have a single agency that responded to public complaints about public sector misbehaviour, pursued proactive covert investigations, conducted and reported on public hearings, provided witness protection, delivered corruption prevention advice and published research into police and criminal justice issues.
In 10 years of public service, the CJC had:
- Processed more than 24,000 complaints
- Entered 8,000 documents into its intelligence database
- Made over 2,000 recommendations for disciplinary action arising out of complaints
- Delivered more than 800 workshops or presentations on corruption prevention
- Protected 664 witnesses (with another 154 witnesses protected during the three years of the Fitzgerald Inquiry)
- Conducted investigations that led to 600 people facing criminal and disciplinary charges
- Made approximately 400 recommendations for procedural reform within the public sector
- Tabled over 40 reports to Parliament and published more than 40 research reports and papers
- Conducted 19 public inquiries.
As a result of the newly-formed Strategic Implementation Group’s recommendations, Project Shield was renamed the Covert and Sensitive Investigations Unit, and its brief extended to include all highly sensitive investigations (which may or may not have required a covert capability) related to misconduct in the public sector, not just police misconduct.
Preventing misconduct in the public sector remained a strong focus for the CJC in 1999-00. The initiation of the Corruption Prevention Network that year allowed those with an interest or responsibility in the prevention of corruption the opportunity to meet, share ideas and keep abreast of developments. Additionally, the Proactive Assessment Unit was created with the goal of developing new methods for the proactive investigation of corruption and other misconduct.
In June 2000, the Witness Protection Bill was introduced into Parliament after years of work by the CJC to bring about state legislation complementary to the commonwealth Witness Protection Act. The CJC released the first edition of the CJC newspaper Prevention Pays! coinciding with the Royal Queensland Show, where for the first time, the CJC had a stand in the government pavilion.
The CJC also prepared for the July 2000 relocation of its office from 557 Coronation Drive in Toowong to Terrica Place in the CBD.
The issue of rising prisoner numbers
Between 1993 and 1998, the population of Queensland’s prisons had increased by 116 per cent, and the post-1993 rate of imprisonment in Queensland far exceeded anything that might be explained on the basis of population trends, resulting in Queensland having the highest imprisonment rate of any state in Australia.
In 1998 the CJC was approached by the Director-General of the then Queensland Corrective Services Commission for help in ascertaining why prisoner numbers had increased.
Initial research identified that little was known about the causes of the increase and, as a result, the CJC commenced a research project.
The Prisoner Numbers in Queensland report, released in 2000, revealed the operations of the key criminal justice agencies began to change in important ways around 1993, when the prisoner population began to rise rapidly. The “fragmented nature” of the administration of criminal justice in Queensland came into view, and the report noted the need to improve coordination of the wider system and its data management process.
The report determined that no single factor had been responsible for the growth in prisoner population. At the most general level, there were four causes of the post-1993 increase in numbers, including the legislative/regulatory context, police practices, court practices, and correctional practices.
From here, the CJC was instrumental in a cross-agency project to develop a statistical model of the criminal justice system which was designed to improve the capacity of government to assess the impact of possible policy changes. It considered the tendency for changes to be introduced into one part of the criminal justice system with little consideration being given to their ‘downstream’ impact.
In 1999-2000, other CJC initiatives included:
- Discovering, via a public attitude surveys, that attitudes to the QPS and local governments were found to be improving.
- Evaluating the trial of capsicum spray in Queensland and the State Government pilot program of Crime Prevention Partnerships.
- Investigating police and drugs – several covert investigations were conducted using a variety of surveillance techniques. One investigation, Operation Craven, resulted in the charging of three police officers.
- Holding two public hearings. One into the police power to conduct strip searches and the other an inquiry into allegations of misuse of police information (Operation Piper).
- Delivering 59 public sector workshops or presentations.
- Disseminating a Councillor Information Kit to 1250 councillors containing advice for newly elected and returning councillors.
To find out more, read the Annual Report 1999-00.