The CCC has investigative powers that are not ordinarily available to police or other government agencies in conducting investigations. These include powers to conduct coercive hearings and to hold public inquiries, as well as to require people or agencies to produce documents or information.
The CCC has the power to conduct coercive hearings that require witnesses to attend hearings and give evidence. Witnesses in these hearings have no right to silence, and cannot claim the privilege against self-incrimination as a reason not to answer questions.
These powers are exceptional in a Queensland law enforcement context. Such powers enable the CCC to secure otherwise unobtainable evidence, including intelligence regarding activity by criminal organisations. Hearings are conducted in secret and there are strong protections placed on access to information gained through these powers.
The CCC also has the power to compel people or agencies to produce records or other items. These powers are used extensively in corruption investigations, financial investigations into organised crime and money laundering, and confiscation investigations.
The CCC uses its coercive hearings powers not only for its own investigations, but also when police request assistance with serious crime investigations that cannot be advanced using traditional policing powers.
Power to conduct a public inquiry
Complaints or issues brought to our attention sometimes involve wide-ranging allegations that have the potential to reduce public confidence in fundamental systems of public administration and government.
In such cases, the CCC can conduct a public inquiry. Public exposure of systemic issues allows for wider gathering of evidence and information on which to base findings and recommendations than can be achieved in a normal investigation. It also allows the public to be involved in reform processes (via a call for public submissions), and for information to be provided by members of the public with an interest in the inquiry.
Limits of our powers
The CCC is not a court. Even when it investigates a matter, it cannot determine guilt or discipline anyone. Police officers seconded to the CCC can charge people in both crime and corruption investigations before the matters are progressed by prosecuting authorities including police prosecutions and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).