When any official role involves a discretionary power, there is the potential for corruption to occur.

Abuse of office involves an official acting (or not failing to act) improperly in their capacity as an official, accompanied by an awareness that the act or omission is improper.

Abuse of office can take several forms, but commonly involves using the official improperly exercising influence, using information or doing something else to dishonestly benefit themselves or another, or to dishonestly cause detriment to another.

It can occur both during and after the staff member’s employment, if the former staff member uses information obtained during their employment to dishonestly obtain a benefit or cause a detriment following their departure.

Many other forms of corruption can also fall under the broader category of abuse of office, including:

  • unauthorised access to and disclosure of information,
  • bribery,
  • insider trading or
  • misuse of Commonwealth resources.

The duties of law enforcement officers bring them directly into the path of opportunity and there may be a temptation to use their discretionary power to gain a benefit.