OmbudsmanNT Investigation Report Matters arising from allegations of inappropriate conduct by a former Commissioner of Police and another police officer May 2015
Tabled paper 1378
Tabled Papers for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
Tabled by Adam Giles
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.
24 148. Consider the following hypothetical scenarios: Officer A receives some information that suggests that Officer B may have had a close association with a member of a criminal gang. A does not report but all his future dealings with B are tainted by this information. Over time A learns from other officers that they have heard a similar rumour and dont trust B anymore. In truth, the concern has no substance. [Even though it is not true, the efficiency of the Force is eroded by lack of co-operation and trust.] As above but there was a close association. Up to the point that A received the information, B had never been involved in matters relating to the criminal gang. Over time B is involved in several cases relating to the gang and despite his best efforts becomes drawn into supporting a series of decisions and actions favouring gang members following gang threats to disclose Bs association and damage his career prospects. [The opportunity to address the issue before any damage was done has been lost.] 149. Prompt action in reporting concerns must be supported at every level as it may nip a problem in the bud before it has a real adverse impact. 150. It must be acknowledged that, in the eyes of some officers, such an approach does not sit easily with a police culture of support for fellow officers and respect for senior officers. However, it is in the interests of all police to have doubts and concerns raised promptly and dealt with immediately. 151. Officers who are willing to raise integrity concerns promptly in an appropriate forum should be supported and congratulated. Promoting awareness of, and consideration of, external reporting options 152. As to the third point, in a disciplined force, there is a natural tendency to favour reporting through the existing chain of command in relation to any concern that may be raised about another officer. 153. This is unexceptionable as a general rule whether in the NT Police or in any other organisation. It is natural to raise issues internally. Even if a direct supervisor is involved, the obvious next step is for the next manager up-the-line to be advised. 154. In any event, reporting outside the chain of command to an external body is only permitted for more serious matters (see the limitations discussed in paragraphs 92-93 and 97-98 above). And, if an internal report qualifies as a complaint against Police under the Ombudsman Act or a public interest disclosure, it must in turn be reported by NT Police to the relevant external body. 155. However, there will be more serious matters where there are good reasons for raising concerns with an external body. For example, the concern may relate to a very senior officer, the officer may wish to raise the concern confidentially, or they may wish to simply discuss an issue that they are unsure of with an independent external body. 156. External reporting is a valid option open to police. It has a statutory basis and there are legislative protections for police who raise concerns. 157. Existing external bodies have the capacity to deal with concerns raised by officers from the most junior to the most senior levels. Quite apart from statutory reporting requirements, they should be seen as responsible and effective mechanisms for addressing complex integrity issues that fall within their respective jurisdictions.