Crime And Corruption Commission (CCC) (WA) | Armstrong Legal

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This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

Crime And Corruption Commission (CCC) (WA)


The Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) is an independent statutory body set up to combat and reduce organised crime, and to reduce misconduct in the public sector in Western Australia. Its functions and powers are set out in the Corruption, Crime and Misconduct Act 2003.

Misconduct

The Act defines misconduct as when a public officer:

  • corruptly acts or fails to act;
  • corruptly takes advantage of their office or job to obtain a benefit for themselves or others, or cause detriment to any person;
  • acting in their official capacity, commits and offence punishable by 2 or more years imprisonment;
  • engages in conduct that:
    • adversely affects the functions of a public authority or public officer;
    • is not honest or impartial;
    • breaches the trust placed in the officer;
    • involves the misuse of information or material; and
    • this conduct constitutes or could constitute grounds for terminating their employment.

Public officers include State Government employees, police, politicians and university staff.

Serious misconduct

The CCC has power to deal specifically with serious misconduct involving public officers. It focus on a small number of “higher value” investigations and operations. Its role in relation to serious misconduct includes:

  • investigating allegations;
  • monitoring the way action is taken by agencies or authorities;
  • making recommendations;
  • consulting with other agencies and authorities such as the Australian Federal Police and Australian Tax Office;
  • collecting evidence for prosecutions.

When deciding whether to investigate allegations, the CCC considers factors such as the seriousness of the conduct, the seniority of the public officer, and whether taking further action is in the public interest. It can choose to investigate with or without the help of any other independent agency or appropriate authority, refer the allegation to an independent agency or appropriate authority, or take no action. It can investigate alleged serious misconduct that has or may have occurred, is or may be occurring, is or may be about to occur, or is likely to occur.

It can help public authorities to prevent serious misconduct by actions such as analysing information gathered in investigations; analysing systems used by public authorities to prevent serious misconduct and helping those authorities by making recommendations and offering advice and training; and reporting on ways to prevent and combat serious misconduct.

Organised crime

Organised crime includes money laundering, extortion, sexual exploitation, and drug manufacturing, trafficking and distribution. The Act grants the CCC the power to allow use of “exceptional powers” such as the ability to summon witnesses, to conduct certain searches, and to run undercover operations.

The Commissioner of Police applies to the CCC to use these powers and to grant their use, the CCC must be satisfied there are reasonable grounds that:

  • organised crime has been, or is being committed;
  • evidence can be obtained using the powers;
  • the use of the powers would be in the public interest given the type of evidence, the likelihood of gaining it and whether it could otherwise be obtained.

The search power allows police to enter any place at any time, without a warrant, if they suspect organised crime has been or is being committed. They can demand articles or records kept there; stop, detain and search anyone at the place; and take photos and seize anything that may provide evidence. This power extends to stopping and searching vehicles and occupants.

The CCC can approve the use of an assumed identity by a police officer. The officer must report at least once every 6 months to the Commissioner of Police to describe the officer’s activities under the assumed identity. The CCC can also approve the use of a police undercover operation. The operation can be conducted for reasons including to obtain evidence of criminal activity, arrest a suspect or frustrate criminal activity. The police officer in charge of the operation must report at least once every 6 months to the Commissioner of Police to describe the nature of the operation and the nature of the criminal activity being monitored.

The CCC can also grant police the power it issue a “fortification warning notice” where a premises is heavily fortified, and habitually used by a group of people suspected of being involved in organised crime, such as motorcycle gangs. The notice gives the occupier 14 days to remove the fortification.

Offences

The Act contains a range of offences related to the CCC. A person who wilfully hinders the CCC’s operations faces a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 3 years and a fine of $60,000. The same maximum penalty applies to a person who maliciously discloses an allegation of misconduct has been or is or may be made to the CCC, knowing the allegation to be false. Other offences include giving false testimony, bribing a witness, destroying evidence, sacking a witness, and impersonating a CCC officer, with most carrying a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 5 years and a fine of $100,000.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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