Western Australia’s corruption watchdog has had a busy year, with the release of 45 reports compared to only 13 in their last reporting period.
The Corruption and Crime Commission tabled its annual report in State Parliament last week, and emphasised the importance of engagement with the public.
The authority assessed 5,036 allegations during 2018-19. The leap in reports published was due to a change in the CCC’s counting methodology to better reflect its activity, not because of any significant jump in corruption, according to the CCC.
More than 2000 notifications of serious misconduct came from members of the public, which the commission said has continued a “very positive upward trend” in relation to the greater number of reports produced, the public interest they have received, and a maintained presence on social media.
“The vast majority of public servants, elected officials, and people or companies who interact or do business with them, are good, ethical people,” the CCC said in a statement. “However, a small number are not. Thanks to increasing vigilance, more Western Australians are speaking up about suspected corruption in the WA public sector.”
Roughly 56% of allegations assessed by the CCC related to the WA Police Force, which the watchdog has deemed as “to be expected given the inclusion of minor misconduct allegations”, such as neglect of duty or unprofessional conduct. The rest of the public sector made up 43% of allegations, with the two categories attracting the highest number of allegations being “using position for benefit or detriment” (21%) and the “unlawful use of computer” (17%). Roughly 70% of allegations made against public sector agencies were classified as criminal in nature.
Independent agencies and other authorities had a small jump in the number of allegations, from 538 in 2017-2018 to 707 this reporting period. Meanwhile, local governments experienced a drop, from 761 to 566 allegations.
The Department of Education was the subject of 403 allegations in the previous reporting period, but only 147 this time around. The CCC noted that during 2018-19, the department returned to a twice-yearly schedule of reporting for two allegation types, meaning that some reports will be received and assessed in the next reporting period.
The CCC made a total of 46 recommendations to public sector agencies over the 2018-2019 period.
According to the CCC, a key feature of the year was the “maturing” of its oversight function. During the reporting period, 70 allegations were referred to an appropriate authority to be monitored and reviewed, as a way to build the capacity of the public sector to expose misconduct risks.
Other key findings from the annual report were:
- Assessments were completed within an average of 32 days,
- 1,604 allegations were identified as potentially involving serious misconduct,
- 50 investigations were conducted,
- 29 serious misconduct investigations were completed.