Former Queensland Corrective Services Officer Neil Newman was fined $3500 for unlawfully accessing confidential information about prisoners.
Neil Newman commenced employment with Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) in 2015 on a part-time basis, and in 2016 was appointed to a permanent full-time position. He worked as a Custodial Correctional Officer in the secure units at Wolston Correctional Centre (WCC).
From 8 March 2017 until 19 July 2017, Newman used the QCS Integrated Offender Management System (IOMS) on 69 occasions in order to access unauthorised information in relation to male and female prisoners (48 checks were on females and 21 were on males). The checks conducted had no connection to the WCC or Newman’s duties.
IOMS is a restricted computer system used by QCS in relation to all prisoner intelligence, with access being limited to authorised use for a purpose related to their role.
One of the unlawful checks was on a male prisoner who was discharged from the WCC in 2016. In 2017, Newman accessed his offender summary, photo, physical details, a Queensland Police Service report and sentencing transcripts.
Newman was dismissed from WCC and charged with computer hacking and misuse.
On 1 December 2020, at the Brisbane Magistrates Court, Newman pleaded guilty to computer hacking and misuse for the 69 checks he conducted between 8 March 2017 and 19 July 2017.
The Magistrate noted, while access to information was easy for Newman, it was not permitted in the circumstances of his employment and breached the trust imposed on him. When a public officer has access to confidential information, they need to maintain privacy.
In sentencing Newman, the Magistrate noted that he received no benefit for himself or others, other than the information was in Newman’s possession and seemed to satisfy some curiosity on his part. The Magistrate also took into consideration Newman had not disclosed the information to others, his cooperation with criminal justice system and guilty plea.
The Magistrate imposed a fine of $3,500. The Magistrate considered the fine needed to address both public and personal deterrence.
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