Why am I not surprised? 25 Queensland Police officers implicated in criminal scheme
The whitewashers of the CMC finally do something useful. Note that they had to be prodded by another agency, though
Twenty-five Queensland police officers have been implicated in a corrupt scheme to rort money paid to criminals for information, a new report has found. The Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) today released a 142-page report, Dangerous Liaisons, which examines the results of an anti-corruption operation codenamed Capri. The report found 25 police officers - some ranked as high as inspector - were implicated in the rorts. Three officers are currently before the courts and 22 have been disciplined, with 11 resigning from the police service before their hearings were completed. Some of the officers are still working.
The investigation covered three areas - Rockhampton in central Queensland, Cleveland on Brisbane's bayside and the since disbanded armed hold-up squad. The bulk of the allegations related to payments made to prisoner informant Lee Owen Henderson, who is serving two life terms in jail for murder.
In 2005 the CMC received information from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) suggesting that some police officers had an "improper association" with Henderson, who was then in the Rockhampton jail and was seen by officers as a valuable informant. But the report found "evidence suggests that (Henderson) rarely, if ever, provided information of value". "Instead, Henderson manipulated police officers for his own ends," the report said.
"In return for his supposed assistance, Henderson was obtaining benefits from police, including access to confidential law enforcement information, access to Queensland Police Service (QPS) and Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) resources for his own personal use, removals from custody, and some financial assistance. "Some officers assisted him in an (unsuccessful) attempt to secure a lower security classification."
The CMC investigation found that the relationship between Henderson and the officers stemmed from practices which came out of the now disbanded armed robbery unit. "The practice (from armed robbery unit) involved police officers providing prisoners with rewards and other benefits to encourage the making of confessions and the giving up of information," the report said.
The investigation uncovered other activities including the removal of prisoners from custody for "improper purposes", misappropriation of money intended to be used as rewards and the improper receipt of money and gifts from Henderson. The CMC found that the misconduct "not only compromised individual police officers, but had the potential to undermine the integrity of the QPS as an organisation, and with it, the criminal justice system".
Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said in the foreword to the report many of the officers involved had started out "with the intention of solving or preventing serious crimes". "After the policies and procedures were not properly followed and strategies used were not sound," he wrote. Mr Atkinson said the QPS had since set new guidelines for the use of funds to pay informants. "Revised procedures were also implemented ... to enhance accountability and to raise approval levels for prisoner removal from correctional facilities," he said.
CMC chairman Robert Needham said the publication of the report, close to the 20th anniversary of the Fitzgerald Inquiry being tabled in State Parliament, "should serve as a reminder that lessons learned gradually diminish with the passage of time and generational change". "It is inevitable that as time passes, slippage in the ethical standards of our police will occur," Mr Needham said. [That's a fact!]