“The Commission’s role as ‘watchdog’ is well balanced by its positive role as ‘reformer and educator’ on criminal justice issues…. it must continually reinforce the value of prevention.”
---Chairperson Frank Clair
In January 1996, Frank Clair commenced as Chairperson of the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC); in that same year, the total number of complaints to the CJC passed 20,000, highlighting the ongoing importance of an independent agency to Queenslanders.
The CJC investigated police and public sector integrity, organised crime and contributed to reform of the public sector. This included:
- Together with QPS, assisting the National Crime Authority (NCA) to expose the largest amphetamine manufacturing operation ever identified by law enforcement agencies at that time (Operation Chinook)
- An extensive investigation of large-scale theft from the Department of Transport’s workshop resulting in the CJC’s seizure of seven trucks and departmental property
- With the assistance of the NCA, conducting an investigation into an Italian organised crime syndicate resulting in the seizure and destruction of illegal drug crops worth an estimated $3.8 million (Operation Jethro)
- Prosecuting nine people as a result of an extensive investigation into large-scale cannabis production in North Queensland (Operation Harrier)
- Providing support and protection to 202 people in witness protection
- Continuing to participate in three nationally coordinated crime projects on Italian Organised Crime, Chinese Organised Crime and Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.
In 1995-96, the CJC commenced two public inquiries, both conducted by the Honourable Kenneth J Carruthers QC. The first inquiry was into a matter arising from the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Queensland Police Union of Employees and members of the Coalition parties. The second was into an agreement between the Australian Labor Party and officers of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia.
Since 1990, as part of the ongoing QPS reform process, independent Commissioners for Police Service Reviews, known as Review Commissioners, had been hearing applications from police who wished to appeal against decisions on appointments, promotions, suspensions, dismissals and disciplinary action (other than those arising from misconduct findings). In 1995-96, of the 121 matters actually heard, around 20 per cent resulted in a recommendation that the decision be set aside or varied. The Review Commissioners identified problems with the QPS promotions, transfer and disciplinary processes, and were active in solving such problems, contributing to specialist training for selection panel convenors and disciplinary officers’ courses. Independent Review Commissioners continue this work today.
As part of its efforts to promote the development of community policing projects and other crime prevention initiatives, the CJC continued its involvement in promoting beat policing as a pro-active policing strategy. It released reports on beat policing in Toowoomba and West End, and prepared a training kit for officers.
In 1995-96 the CJC had a strong focus on corruption prevention, education and information-sharing. The CJC delivered 47 presentations and attended 29 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community meetings, delivered 51 ethical decision-making workshops for 840 participants, and disseminated criminal intelligence to other law enforcement agencies on 496 occasions. It more than doubled its engagement sessions by holding 260 public education, training, and communication events compared with the 107 from the previous year.
With a view to improving the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the Queensland criminal justice system, the CJC expanded the locations of its workshops to include remote communities. It also completed a significant report entitled Aboriginal Witnesses in Queensland’s Criminal Courts, which identified that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people appearing in court as witnesses “were often at a disadvantage compared to other witnesses”, because courts and legal practitioners did not pay sufficient regard to unique aspects of language and culture. Recommendations were made to multiple agencies as a result of this important report.
To find out more, read the Annual Report 1995-96.