“The focus must not be lost. The true reform process never ends. It must continue – and so must an independent CJC as a vital part of that process.”
---Chairperson Frank Clair
In August 1997 the Supreme Court terminated the Inquiry into the Future Role, Structure, Powers and Operations of the Criminal Justice Commission (known as the Connolly–Ryan Inquiry) because of apprehended bias.
On 8 December 1997, legislation was passed which significantly amended the Criminal Justice Act 1989. The amendments included:
- A widening of the power of the CJC’s parliamentary oversight body
- The removal of the CJC’s jurisdiction to investigate organised and major crime.
The 1997 amendments to the Act widened the oversight powers of the Parliamentary Criminal Justice Committee (PCJC) and introduced a new accountability mechanism – the office of the Parliamentary Criminal Justice Commissioner – which had wide-ranging powers to audit and review the activities of the CJC, and investigate complaints against the CJC.
A further accountability mechanism was the creation on 3 April 1998 of the position of Public Interest Monitor, an office intended to overview applications to the Supreme Court for the use of listening devices. Further legislative amendments saw the CJC gain jurisdiction over state-run correctional facilities, and from September 1997 to June 1998, 88 corrective services complaints were registered.
Perhaps the most significant amendment was the removal of the CJC’s jurisdiction to investigate organised and major crime.
On 15 May 1998 the CJC’s jurisdiction relating to organised crime ceased, and the Joint Organised Crime Task Force (JOCTF) established by the CJC in conjunction with QPS was formally dissolved. As part of the transition to the Queensland Crime Commission (QCC), the three principal operations that were being conducted by the JOCTF became the subject of QCC references, and many of the police and civilian members of the JOCTF transferred to the QCC, enabling the ongoing work of the JOCTF to proceed.
At the time of the transfer of organised crime functions to the QCC, JOCTF had completed draft operational plans for five money-laundering investigations. The primary purpose of the investigations was to assist the task force in assessing the nature and extent of organised crime in Queensland.
With an increasing corporate focus on prevention, the CJC created a Prevention Committee representing all relevant areas of the CJC. The committee would identify specific areas of corruption and other misconduct, and the CJC would establish an ad hoc task force to attack each problem area and ensure the maximum preventative outcome was pursued.
At the same time, Project Shield culminated in the findings of Mr W J Carter QC who recognised the value of an intelligence-driven, multi-disciplinary process in the identification and early investigation of public sector corruption. Project Shield reinforced the CJC’s belief that investigation must go hand-in-hand with activities directed toward prevention and an organisational review by external consultants supported the CJC’s intention to move to a more integrated and prevention-oriented focus.
The CJC moved to ensure that strategic intelligence analysis played a permanent role in the future targeting of problems of public sector corruption. The amalgamation of the CJC’s Research Division and the Corruption Prevention Division during 1997-98 acknowledged the vital role that research played in the field of prevention.
During 1997-98, other significant CJC matters included:
- Launching Project Triton – a taskforce set up to examine allegations of police corruption in the investigation of paedophilia – the public inquiry was led by retired judge Mr JP Kimmins
- Making 400 recommendations for charges, 163 of which related to criminal charges
- Making 33 recommendations for procedural reforms within the public sector
- Corruption prevention officers delivering 46 workshops to public sector units
- Intelligence officers being involved in 40 CJC operations and producing 58 significant intelligence tactical and strategic reports in support of CJC investigations
- Six police officers who were investigated during the Police and Drugs Inquiry being convicted and imprisoned, two being dismissed and another resigning
- The publication in October 1997 of the findings of Project Shield, a report entitled Police and Drugs: A Report of an Investigation of Cases involving Queensland Police Officersand
- The addition of a Misconduct Prevention sub-program, to emphasise the Commission’s responsibility to educate the public sector on crime prevention in the workplace.
Case study: Operation Jetski
In July 1996, a large quantity of cannabis was stolen from the Finch Hatton Police watch house. Following extensive CJC investigations, a civilian and a police officer confessed to breaking into the watch house and stealing the cannabis, which was later sold by a third party. All three offenders also admitted to being involved in a conspiracy to protect drug offenders in the area from prosecution.
In February 1998, the police officer pleaded guilty to official corruption, trafficking in dangerous drugs, breaking into the watch house and stealing the cannabis, and one other offence. He was sentenced to a total of eight years’ imprisonment with no recommendation for parole.
The civilian with whom he stole the cannabis pleaded guilty to similar offences and was sentenced to a total of six years’ imprisonment.A further QPS officer was dismissed in March 1998 as a result of disciplinary proceedings concerning his failure to take any action over a proposal by the corrupt officer to commit serious criminal offences.
To find out more, read the Annual Report 1997-98.