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Case Study 2 - Failure to disclose associations

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) requires its appointees to disclose certain associations which may cause a conflict of interest. The AFP has this requirement in order to manage any risk so created, for example, by adjusting duties or by requiring an appointee to remove himself or herself from a potential conflict.

The subject of this investigation (the appointee) was in a relationship with a person who was managing a brothel, but the appointee did not disclose that relationship to the AFP. While prostitution is lawful in the Australian Capital Territory, it can be associated with criminal activity. The risks to the AFP from this association should have been apparent to the appointee.

The Integrity Commissioner found that the appointee did not engage in corrupt conduct, rather the Integrity Commissioner observed that the appointee's decision not to disclose the association was unwise and ill-judged.

The Integrity Commissioner recommended that the AFP Commissioner consider strengthening the existing training in support of the National Guideline relating to integrity reporting and the Practical Guide on dealing with conflicts of interest. The aim would be to ensure that appointees understand that they are required to declare any personal connection with businesses and occupations, even if nominally lawful, which a reasonable person would associate with incidental criminal conduct or with a corruption risk. The AFP Commissioner agreed with the Integrity Commissioner's recommendation.

Integrity Risk

  • The requirement for staff members to disclose associations which may cause a real or perceived conflict of obligation is a key integrity measure and corruption risk control for law enforcement agencies. Such a requirement enables agencies to manage the risk that may be created by such an association—for example, by adjusting a staff member's duties or by requiring a staff member to remove himself or herself from a potential conflict of interest.
  • When the integrity of law enforcement officers is in doubt, especially in the area of off-duty conduct, it is not uncommon to find that they have judged their own conduct on the basis of "Is it lawful or allowable to do something?" without taking the next step of asking "Should I do it?". Not to take this step leads to deficient outcomes, since it involves personal risk-taking that can erode professional standards. It also deprives the law enforcement agency of the opportunity to manage its risks effectively.
  • This investigation illustrates the inherent risks in self-managing risks. The lesson is for officials to report associations or conflicts of interest using the frameworks agencies have available to manage risks.

Related documents:

  • Report 02/2011–An investigation into the conduct of an Australian Federal Police (Australian Capital Territory Policing) appointee concerning his association with the manager of a prostitution enterprise Word Document PDF Document