“The (Queensland Crime Commission’s) use of its hearings power, which differentiates the Commission from other state based law enforcement agencies, enables it to add real value to investigative outcomes in the area of organised crime and paedophilia. It allows the Commission to take investigations further than they may have been able to go using powers ordinarily available to police.”
--- Queensland Crime Commissioner Tim Carmody.
The 1998-99 year was the Crime Commission’s first full year of operation, and as such represented a significant milestone in its development. As its achievements that year showed, while much still remained to be done, the Commission had taken great steps forward.
The QCC was tasked with investigating criminal activity referred to it, and in particular, criminal paedophilia and major and organised crime. The QCC Management Committee could issue references on the basis that:
- Investigations were unlikely to be effective using ordinary police powers
- It was a justifiable use of resources, and
- A QCC investigation would be in the public interest.
The QCC maintained links with the Criminal Justice Commission. The CJC’s Chairperson, Mr Brendan Butler, was appointed to the QCC Management Committee. Additionally, the QCC had responsibility to refer evidence of official misconduct in its possession to the CJC.
The QCC’s investigative hearing and other coercive powers differentiated it from traditional law enforcement. The QCC’s coercive powers allowed it to compulsorily question suspects and witnesses on oath.
Those special investigative powers enabled it to add value to regular law enforcement efforts. The hearings power had been made available to the QCC by Parliament so that overall investigative outcomes could be improved, not only in relation to organised crime and criminal paedophilia, but also to major crimes including cases of murder that would otherwise remain unsolved.
Highlighting the QCC’s growing momentum, the number of charges by type of charge resulting from referenced QCC/QPS joint operations increased 188.5 per cent from the previous year. There was a total of 290 charges in the 1998-99 financial year compared to the previous year’s 65 charges.
A further highlight for the QCC in 1998-99 was the completion of Project Krystal, which had multiple purposes including informing the Queensland community of the threat organised crime represented to society. Project Krystal provided a compass for QCC organised crime investigations that identified high-risk criminal markets and the nature of those markets.
QCC Case study: Operation Dovetail
Information provided to Project Axis, the QCC’s strategic intelligence assessment of child sex offending in Queensland, led to a coordinated QCC-QPS investigation which probed the first suspected commercial Internet-based child pornography website compiled in Australia.
Search warrants were executed resulting in the seizure of computer hardware and software containing in excess of 100,000 images. These images were subject of forensic computer examination.Cooperation with United States law enforcement agencies including United States Customs and the Federal Bureau of Investigation led to action against the United States Internet service provider hosting the website.
To find out more, read the QCC Annual Report 1998-99.