Theft and corruption in local council depots

Local councils are at risk of corruption and misuse of plant due to substandard rules and controls in depots, argues a report by IBAC.

Local council works depots are vulnerable to corruption due to “significant deficiencies” in the management of small plants and equipment, according a report by the Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.

Depots are full of small items “particularly vulnerable to theft”, the report noted, recommending that councils ensure equipment is appropriately marked as council property and stored securely, maintaining up-to-date registers and conducting random and regular audits.

One council even allowed for private use of plant and equipment by staff, though it has since discontinued the practice. Similarly, one council CEO had as recently as 2013 stopped a practice of permitting staff to sell scrap metal from council projects to fund depot social club functions.

The review followed allegations of corrupt conduct involving council works depot employees in Mitchell Shire Council in outer metropolitan Melbourne — an investigation cleared Mitchell Shire Council workers of wrongdoing in April last year, but IBAC identified broader issues affecting councils that warranted further exploration.

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