In January 2019, a former senior probation and parole officer pleaded guilty to one charge of Computer hacking and misuse (section 408E(1)and (2) of the Criminal Code) for conduct between June 2012 and November 2017.
Lan Phuong Le commenced employment with QCS in 2009 as a senior case manager – she managed and supervised people subject to court orders. She had access to two systems – the QCS Integrated Offender Management System (IOMS) and the Queensland-Wide Interlinked Court System (QWIC). Both systems contained sensitive confidential information.
Le was in a relationship with a man for two years between 2014 and 2016. After they had separated, the man contacted the CCC and reported that Le had conducted searches of people and released the information to him.
The CCC investigation revealed that over a period of around five and a half years, she searched her partner, his family members, friends and ex-partners (66 searches on 24 people in total) at the request of her partner. She also searched her old school friends (116 searches on 6 people) and other people she knew personally or through her personal life, including her brother and prospective partners.
Le released various types of information to her partner about the people she searched, including their age, whether they were “in the system”, details of their criminal history, whether they had been to jail, whether they had visited another person in jail and whether they had family who were in jail.
About 20 of the searches were conducted in contravention of a requirement not to conduct searches on specific people, which had been imposed after Le had made a conflict of interest declaration because she knew the people.
Le, who had no criminal history, resigned from QCS as a result of these matters.
In sentencing Le, the Magistrate noted that, once she passed the information on to her partner, she did not know what he was going to do with it and the purpose for which he would use it. The Magistrate indicated that she had thought of imposing a term of imprisonment but decided to record a conviction and impose an $8,000 fine.
The Magistrate considered it to be a serious example of the offence – Le had displayed a cavalier attitude in thinking she had a right to access the information in the way she did, it occurred over an extended period of time and not all of the offending was the result of requests from her partner.
Moreover, some instances of improper access occurred after the conflict of interest process resulted in a specific restriction on her accessing information about specific people.
The conduct engaged in by Le in the case study would have warranted dismissal from QCS, had Le not resigned.
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