ACLEI has published a pamphlet, Integrity in law enforcement, which provides general information about ACLEI and how to report corruption. Other information about ACLEI appears below.
- An Australian Government law enforcement culture that resists corruption.
- To support the Integrity Commissioner to detect, disrupt and deter corrupt conduct.
- Detect, investigate and prevent corrupt conduct.
- Maintain and improve the integrity of law enforcement staff, through awareness-raising and making recommendations for reform of practices and laws.
- Collect and process information about corruption, and inform the Australian Parliament about patterns and trends.
- Innovation and excellence
- Cooperation and communication
- Fairness and objectivity.
The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) provides independent assurance to government about the integrity of prescribed law enforcement agencies and their staff members. The office of the Integrity Commissioner and ACLEI are established by the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006 (the LEIC Act). The Minister for Justice is responsible for the administration of the LEIC Act.
Those agencies subject to the Integrity Commissioner's jurisdiction are:
- the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and the former National Crime Authority
- the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service
- the Australian Federal Police (AFP)
- the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC)
- the CrimTrac Agency, and
- prescribed aspects of the Department of Agriculture.
Other agencies with a law enforcement function may also be added by regulation.
ACLEI's primary role is to investigate law enforcement-related corruption issues, giving priority to serious and systemic corruption.
The Integrity Commissioner must consider the nature and scope of corruption revealed by investigations, and report annually on any patterns and trends in corruption in Australian Government law enforcement and other Government agencies which have law enforcement functions. Accordingly, ACLEI collects intelligence about corruption in support of the Integrity Commissioner's functions.
ACLEI also aims to understand corruption and prevent it. When, as a consequence of performing his or her functions, the Integrity Commissioner identifies laws of the Commonwealth or administrative practices of government agencies that might contribute to corrupt practices or prevent their early detection, he or she may make recommendations for these laws or practices to be changed.
Any person, including members of the public and law enforcement officers, can give information to the Integrity Commissioner. Information can be given in confidence or provided anonymously.
Information about corruption
Information about corruption comes from members of the public, members of law enforcement agencies, and from ACLEI's own detection initiatives. The heads of the agencies in ACLEI's jurisdiction must also notify the Integrity Commissioner of any corruption issues that arise in their agencies. Any information that indicates corrupt conduct has occurred, is occurring, or may be likely to occur, can be investigated by the Integrity Commissioner.
In addition, the Minister may request that the Integrity Commissioner conduct a public inquiry into all or any of the following:
- a corruption issue
- an issue about corruption generally in law enforcement, or
- an issue or issues about the integrity of staff members of law enforcement agencies.
One of the challenges in law enforcement is that organised criminal networks may seek to engage in infiltration and compromise to facilitate unlawful activities. The staff of law enforcement agencies are possible targets of such attempts.
Law enforcement agencies lead the collection of intelligence about organised crime, and this information can provide insights about corrupt conduct and corruption risk. Likewise, integrity investigations can yield new information about the activities of criminal groups.
Accordingly, ACLEI engages with the operational 'core business' areas of the agencies in the Integrity Commissioner's jurisdiction, as well as with their Professional Standards units, to share information about organised crime operations and work together to counter threats to law enforcement integrity.
Responsibilities and powers
The Integrity Commissioner decides independently how to deal with each corruption issue. The Integrity Commissioner is not expected to investigate every corruption issue that arises in Commonwealth law enforcement. Rather, the Integrity Commissioner's role is to ensure that indications and risks of corruption in law enforcement agencies are identified and addressed effectively.
The Integrity Commissioner can choose from a range of options in dealing with a corruption issue. The options are to:
- investigate the corruption issue independently
- investigate the corruption issue jointly with another agency
- refer the corruption issue to the law enforcement agency for internal investigation (with or without management or oversight by ACLEI)
- refer the corruption issue to another agency, such as a State integrity agency, the AFP, or another Government agency, for investigation, or
- take no further action.
The Integrity Commissioner will investigate when there is advantage in ACLEI's direct involvement, for example if an independent investigation would be beneficial, or if the use of ACLEI's coercive investigation powers would be desirable.
A challenge facing ACLEI is that those law enforcement officers subject to investigation by the Integrity Commissioner are likely to be well-versed in law enforcement methods, and may be skilled at countering them in order to avoid scrutiny. As a consequence, ACLEI has access to a range of special law enforcement powers and methods in order to investigate corrupt conduct.
The corruption investigation methods available to the Integrity Commissioner include:
- coercive information-gathering hearings and notices
- telecommunications interception and data access
- electronic surveillance
- controlled operations and assumed identities
- search warrants
- scrutiny of financial transaction records, and
- integrity testing.
In addition, the Integrity Commissioner may issue orders to prevent disclosures being made by witnesses about the nature and existence of ACLEI hearings. This measure is designed to prevent collusion between witnesses and other forms of compromise that may arise, were the fact of an ACLEI investigation was to become known. Non-disclosure directions are also one means by which ACLEI may protect whistleblowers.
Maintaining the integrity of ACLEI
The powers and authority provided by Parliament to the Integrity Commissioner are substantial. A variety of safeguards are in place to ensure that these powers are used lawfully, fairly and appropriately. A number of these safeguards take the form of external checks, while others are administered by the Integrity Commissioner as ACLEI's head of agency. ACLEI's performance against these safeguards is reported in the annual report.
The LEIC Act also contains measures to maintain ACLEI’s integrity and to ensure that the Integrity Commissioner and ACLEI remain free from political interference. For example, the Minister may ask the Integrity Commissioner to conduct a public inquiry, but cannot direct how inquiries or investigations will be conducted.
In addition, the Integrity Commissioner:
- is appointed by the Governor-General and cannot be removed arbitrarily
- may not hold office for more than seven years
- can commence investigations on his or her own initiative, and
- can make public statements and can release reports publicly.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (the Committee), reports to both Houses of Parliament on matters relating to ACLEI. The Committee comprises five Members of Parliament and five Senators. The Committee monitors and reviews ACLEI's work, and examines each annual report and any special reports produced by the Integrity Commissioner.
The LEIC Act also makes provisions for dealing with issues that relate to the conduct of the Integrity Commissioner or ACLEI current or former staff members. Any person may raise a concern with the Integrity Commissioner about the conduct of ACLEI staff.
The Integrity Commissioner has an obligation to notify the Minister of any corruption issue concerning an ACLEI staff member. ACLEI staff are under a like obligation to report corruption by other staff or the Integrity Commissioner. It is an offence for ACLEI staff not to discharge this duty to notify the Minister.
The Minister can arrange for ACLEI corruption issues to be investigated independently by a Special Investigator, using the same investigative powers that are available to the Integrity Commissioner.
Complaints about ACLEI
Any person who has a concern about his or her dealings with ACLEI should first raise the issue with ACLEI. Should a person remain dissatisfied, complaints about ACLEI can be made to the Commonwealth Ombudsman.