Law Enforcement Conduct Commission
In 2017, the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) replaced the Police Integrity Commission and the Police Compliance Branch of the New South Wales Ombudsman. The LECC investigates both the New South Wales Police and the NSW Crime Commission and is independent of both agencies. It is answerable to the Inspector of the LECC and the Parliamentary Joint Committee.
What Matters Does The LECC Investigate?
The LECC investigates alleged police misconduct. Previous investigations include:
- Operation Baltra in 2018, which was an investigation into whether a NSW Police Force officer mistreated a female prisoner on the 15th of September 2017.
- Operation Corwen in 2018, which was an investigation into whether police officers engaged in serious misconduct when arresting a person on the 9th of April 2016 and subsequently prosecuting the person.
- Operation Tusket in 2017, which was an investigation into the NSW Police Force’s administration of the NSW Child Protection Register.
- Operation Carlow in 2019 which was an investigation into whether a police officer was involved in the use and/or sale of illegal drugs.
- Operation Brugge in 2020, which was an investigation into the strip search of a 16-year-old girl by police at a music festival in Byron Bay in 2018.
How To Make A Complaint To LECC
A complaint to the LECC can be made by going to the LECC website and filling out the complaint form. The LECC may take action on complaints.However, it does not investigate every matter and may suggest another course of action.
What Is The Investigation Process?
The LECC conducts investigations either at its own initiative or based on a complaint made to the police, an administration officer, a NSW Crime Commission officer or a report made to the LECC. When complaints are made, the LECC may request further information before commencing the investigation. The LECC can exercise these powers, with or without a hearing.
During investigations the LECC can request information and it has the power to enter premises related to the investigation. For example, it is able to enter a police station, look at documents such as police reports and make copies of them in the course of its investigation. In practice however, the LECC typically requests the documents be made available by NSW Police. If a person does not comply with a notice served or provides false information to the LECC then they can be charged with an offence and sentenced to a fine of up to 50 penalty units and/or 12 months imprisonment under Section 54 of the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission Act 2016 (NSW).
Failure to provide documents or other things carries a sentence of a fine of up to 20 penalty units and/or up to six months imprisonment under Section 55 of the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission Act 2016 (NSW).
What Happens At A Hearing?
A hearing can be public, private or a mixture of both. The Commission will make this decision based on whether it is in the public interest to hold a public hearing or if the hearing should be private.
If a person is called (or summonsed) as a witness to give evidence, either through answering questions or producing documents, they are required to do so. If they fail to comply with a summons they may be charged with an offence with a maximum penalty of 20 penalty units and/or two years imprisonment.
When questioned by the LECC, a person must answer all the questions and produce the requested evidence. Failure to do so is an offence with a maximum penalty of 20 penalty units and/or up to two years imprisonment pursuant to Section 150 of the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission Act 2016 (NSW).
Witnesses will be examined and cross-examined by the Commissioner or the person conducting the hearing. Witnesses are required to tell the truth. Giving false or misleading evidence at a LECC hearing is an offence.
Even if the information, document or other thing is self-incriminating, you must still provide it. The evidence cannot however be used against you in later proceedings with the exception of offences against the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission, for example misleading the LECC.
The LECC can apply to the Supreme Court for an injunction. An injunction may be sought to limit the duties of a police officer being investigated by the LECC to stop any misconduct until the conclusion of the investigation. However, the Supreme Court cannot grant an injunction if it’s likely to impact an investigation or proposed investigation.
Yes. If you are under investigation or are appearing as a witness before the LECC you should have a lawyer. Although the LECC is independent from the NSW Police Force, it is not impartial like a magistrate or judge in a regular court. It is investigating allegations with the goal of uncovering corruption and stopping it. The Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner will ask questions and without a lawyer present to protect you, you may be unable to identify offensive or misleading questions. An experienced lawyer will know what questions are unfair and raise objections when needed. They will ensure your interests are protected.
Non-Disclosure Of Evidence
Normally anyone who is involved in an investigation or commission hearing will request an order preventing the publication of commission material. It is an offence to publish or disclose any information under Section 176 of the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission Act 2016 (NSW) and the maximum penalty is a fine of up to 50 penalty units and/or up to 12 months imprisonment.
After the conclusion of an investigation a report will be presented to parliament, which will decide whether or not to take further action.
If you require any further information about the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission or any other legal matter you can call us on 1300 038 223 or email us.
WHERE TO NEXT?
If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.