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Changes to Independent Police Conduct Authority

Hon Rick Barker
Associate Minister of Justice

16 December 2007
Media Statement

Cabinet approves changes to Independent Police Conduct Authority

Six proposals to further enhance the independence and effectiveness of the Independent Police Conduct Authority were announced by Associate Justice Minister, Rick Barker today.

“The proposals, now agreed to by Cabinet, will provide a more credible and effective oversight system that will help ensure increased public confidence that Police misconduct will be identified and addressed,” Mr Barker said.

Cabinet has agreed to six proposals to enhance the role of the Authority, which will:

• Allow the Authority to undertake its own investigations of complaints about Police misconduct in defined circumstances.
• Allow the Authority to conduct own motion investigations into serious incidents or incidents of significant public interest.
• Amend the current secrecy and privilege provisions so that information gathered during the Authority’s investigations can be used in subsequent proceedings.
• Give Authority investigators the necessary powers to carry out their enhanced investigatory role.
• Enable the Authority to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal prosecution, where it has investigated a matter itself, or directed and controlled a Police investigation; and,
• Allow the Official Information Act to apply to the Authority.

“The new measures will enhance public confidence in the Authority by giving the Authority more scope to act, by amending the secrecy and privilege provisions and by providing more transparency and accountability through the Official Information Act,” Mr Barker said.

The proposals are the latest in a series of amendments designed to enhance the role of the Authority.

The government has responded the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct through the passage of the Independent Police Conduct Authority Amendment Act 2007 in November, and will seek to introduce a Bill implementing the new measures next year.

BACKGROUND

Proposal
Current situation
Proposed changes

******

One: Authority to undertake its own investigations of certain matters that meet defined criteria

Section 17 of the Act is not sufficiently clear about the actions the Authority may take upon receiving a complaint.

• Amendments will clarify that the Authority will have responsibility for conducting investigations into matters that meet defined criteria, rather than relying on Police (likely to be serious matters);
• For investigations that meet the defined criteria, the Authority may:
- investigate itself;
- direct and control a Police investigation; or
- set requirements for the Police investigation.
• Police will retain responsibility for investigating matters that do not meet the defined criteria (likely to be less serious matters);
• Complainants will be able to appeal to the Authority if dissatisfied with the outcome of a Police investigation in certain circumstances.

******

Two: Extending the Authority’s ability to conduct own motion inquiries

The Authority may launch own motion inquiries when notified of incidents involving death or serious bodily harm, but the Act is not specific about its ability to do so in other circumstances.

• The Act is amended to enable the Authority to launch own motion inquiries into:
- incidents or a series of incidents where no complaint or notification has been received,
- serious incidents or incidents of significant public interest; or
- practices, policies or procedures of Police.

******

Three: Results of Authority investigations able to be used in subsequent proceedings

• The Authority must maintain secrecy in respect of information gathered while performing its functions.
• Information cannot be used in subsequent proceedings.

• Amendments to the Act to clarify that information gathered in Authority investigations can be used in subsequent proceedings;
• Information gathered by the Authority during own motion inquiries or hearings using compulsory examination powers will retain the protection of privilege and cannot be used in subsequent proceedings.
• Authority Investigators will be able to give evidence in proceedings.

Four: Appropriate Powers

The Authority does not have the necessary powers to fulfil its enhanced functions.

• The Authority investigators be given the powers necessary to enable them to carry out the Authority’s enhanced investigatory role on a case by case basis.

******

Five: Authority-led investigations and criminal prosecutions


Under the Act the Authority makes recommendations that criminal or disciplinary proceedings be lodged against a member of Police. It is for Police to lay charges and begin proceedings.

• Where the Authority has investigated a matter itself, or has directed and controlled a Police investigation, Authority will be responsible for making the decision whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal prosecution.
• The Authority will be able to seek advice from the Solicitor-General;
• Authority investigators will lay an information but Crown Solicitors will conduct all phases of a criminal prosecution against a member of Police.

******

Six: Application of the Official Information Act

The Official Information Act (the OIA) does not apply to the Authority

The OIA will apply to the Authority


ENDS

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