In February 2014, IBAC received a notification from the Victoria Police Professional Standards Command (PSC) about allegations of interference in a prosecution by a Leading Senior Constable (LSC) serving as a police prosecutor.
The prosecution in question was of a person charged with driving at a dangerous speed in 2014. This person was known to an acquaintance of the LSC and they did not report this conﬂict of interest. The LSC was accused of interfering in favour of the person charged with driving at a dangerous speed by downgrading their charges.
Separately, the LSC was accused of supplying police information to a criminal syndicate and associating with people involved in trafﬁcking drugs.
IBAC undertook an investigation, Operation Oldfield, to determine if there was any evidence to support the allegations. Along with other investigative techniques, the investigation involved the execution of warrants and carrying out summonses.
What were the outcomes?
IBAC substantiated the allegation that the LSC interfered in the prosecution of the person charged with the speeding offence. The second allegation regarding the selling of police information to a criminal syndicate was unsubstantiated.
The substantiated matter was referred to PSC who charged the LSC with perverting the course of justice and misconduct in public ofﬁce. However, the matters did not proceed to court. Criminal charges of perverting the course of justice (two counts) and misconduct in public ofﬁce (one count) were laid thereafter. A committal hearing was held on 18, 19 and 22 February 2016. On 26 February 2016 the Magistrate found the Crown had not established to the requisite standard that a jury properly instructed could ﬁnd criminal intent and discharged the Applicant. The LSC was subject to a formal inquiry by Victoria Police and was dismissed. The LSC was successful in his appeal against this dismissal decision at the Police Registration and Services Board and resumed duties as an LSC within Victoria Police.
Lessons learned, challenges and outtakes
A number of organisational issues were identiﬁed as part of Operation Oldﬁeld. IBAC identified opportunities to strengthen Victoria Police policies, and oversight of, the conduct of police prosecutors. In this case a lack of oversight and the signiﬁcant discretion provided to police prosecutors allowed the LSC to withdraw and re-categorise charges undetected.