Date published 09 August 2019
Last modified 01 October 2021

The CCC can only investigate major crime or undertake specific intelligence operations under an approval or authorisation given by the Crime Reference Committee (CRC), established under the Crime and Corruption Act 2001.

What is major crime?  

Under the Crime and Corruption Act 2001, major crime means—

  • criminal activity  for which the maximum penalty is not less than 14 years imprisonment; or
  • criminal paedophilia; or
  • organised crime; or
  • terrorism; or
  • something preparatory to or undertaken to avoid detection of, or prosecution for, criminal paedophilia, organised crime or terrorism.

The role of the Crime Reference Committee (CRC)

The CRC oversees the general conduct of the CCC’s functions in relation to major crime. The standing membership comprises the Chairperson (chair), the SEO Crime, the Police Commissioner, the Principal Commissioner Family and Child Commission, and two community representatives. The community representatives are appointed by the Governor-in-Council upon the recommendation of the Minister. At least one representative must be female and one at least must have a demonstrated interest in civil liberties.

The referral system

A system of general referrals enables the CCC to investigate areas of major crime. General referrals involve broad categories of major crime comprising organised crime (offences punishable by at least seven years imprisonment), serious crime (offences punishable by at least 14 years imprisonment), criminal paedophilia and terrorism. The current general referrals are:

  • Organised Crime — organised crime that involves an offence relating to drugs, weapons, money laundering, property or prostitution, or an offence against the person or the administration of justice
  • Serious Crime (HomicideGeneral Referral — offences of homicide occurring since 1 January 1952
  • Serious Crime (Vulnerable Victims) — offences of homicide or serious harm to a “vulnerable victim” (i.e. aged under 16, aged over 70 or physically or mentally disabled)
  • Serious Crime (Sexual Offences) — sexual offences committed by a “serial” offender, or which are aggravated by the presence of multiple offenders and/or a weapon
  • Criminal Paedophilia — sexual offences against children and/or offences relating to child exploitation material
  • Terrorism — terrorist acts, or threats of terrorist acts.

If the matter to be investigated is not covered by a general referral, a specific referral may be sought for a particular incident of major crime where a police investigation may not be effective and it is in the public interest. Such referrals are usually initiated by the Commissioner of Police, and are granted on a case-by-case basis. 

Specific intelligence operations

The CRC may also authorise the CCC to undertake specific intelligence operations to gather intelligence about the criminal activities in which criminal organisations and their participants may be involved. Through our specific intelligence operations the CCC is able to explore the methodologies, innovations and adaptations used by these groups to commit crimes and avoid detection by law enforcement. They also assist in identifying avenues for the productive investigation of the most harmful crimes and the persons involved in them.

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