For the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI), 2016–17 was another productive year, with the agency continuing to rise to the challenge of detecting, disrupting and deterring corruption in law enforcement with efficiency, effectiveness and innovation.
ACLEI's focus on proactive corruption prevention and detection activities continued, with the agency taking the innovative step of 'operationalising' it's corruption prevention function in November 2016. Practically, this entailed integrating resources of the previously distinct corruption prevention and intelligence assessments teams into one unit within the Operations Branch. This cohesion allowed contemporary operational knowledge of current and emerging risks within jurisdictional agencies to inform ACLEI's corruption prevention activities in real time. This integration has resulted in more timely strategic intelligence reporting, and the ability to increase targeted corruption prevention activities (including the dissemination of vulnerabilities reports to agencies). This approach to operationalising corruption prevention—along with ACLEI's continued development of its human intelligence capabilities, manifesting in increased generation of intelligence—allowed ACLEI to demonstrate a greater capacity for leadership within the public sector integrity framework.
Operationally, the trend of heightened activity continued in 2016–17. The incorporation of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) into ACLEI's jurisdiction in 2015–16 generated a significant amount of new activity for ACLEI, which has continued to be the case in 2016–17. During the reporting period DIBP—the largest agency in ACLEI's jurisdiction—accounted for over 60 per cent of corruption issues notified by heads of LEIC agencies, and nearly half (47 per cent) of all corruption issues investigated by ACLEI. The Australian Federal Police (AFP)—as the second-largest agency in jurisdiction—accounted for just under a third (32 per cent) of corruption issues notified by heads of LEIC agencies and 38 per cent of the corruption issues under investigation.
The complex nature of law enforcement corruption presents unique challenges in terms of ACLEI's operating methods and habits. Investigations targeting individuals who are familiar with law enforcement methodology are more complex, and may take extended time to yield reportable results. ACLEI investigations could therefore be described as 'slow burn'. In this regard, the partnerships we maintain with our jurisdictional agencies has been of utmost importance, as they bear the risk generated by ACLEI's desire to investigate the full extent of the corrupt behaviour. This position of trust is the result of ongoing cooperation and the desire for meaningful and lasting disruption to corruption in LEIC agencies.
The importance of ACLEI conducting a proper and effective investigation cannot be over-stated. It is imperative that corrupt elements be prevented from flourishing, and be removed from LEIC agencies. Conversely, it is also important that I am able to confidently exonerate a person whose integrity has been called into question, but found through proper investigation to have not acted corruptly. The power to exonerate provides LEIC agency heads with a level of assurance about individuals within their agency, and allows non-corrupt staff to avoid being unfairly tainted.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of ACLEI's staff throughout 2016–17. During the reporting period, the agency reached two important milestones; 10 years since the commencement of the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006, which established ACLEI, and the registration of the 1000th corruption issue notification. ACLEI's staff—both past and present—can be proud of their efforts to contribute to these milestones, and I look forward to sharing more about ACLEI's achievements in the coming years.
Michael Griffin AM