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The Integrity Commission has recommended that consideration be given to a review of offences relating to public sector information misuse to bring Tasmania into step with jurisdictions in other states.

In a report tabled in State Parliament today, the Commission says it has conducted an own motion investigation triggered by the recognition that technological advances have increased the risk of public sector information abuse and it is necessary to better understand how Tasmanian public sector organisations manage information and associated risks.

Tasmania Police was selected as the subject of the investigation, given that the Commission has a legislative requirement to provide oversight of any matters relevant to police misconduct. Unauthorised access to information has been identified as a misconduct risk area in the Commission’s previous audits of police misconduct and has been recognised in other Australian police services. Additionally, the fact that Tasmania Police relies on information to a greater degree than many other public sector organisations and has a responsibility to investigate potentially criminal allegations against public sector employees made it particularly relevant.

The Commission found that in most respects Tasmania Police meets good practice standards, and commends the organisation for its commencement of audits of information access by police officers, improvement of relevant sections of the Tasmania Police Manual, and the establishment of a new conduct and complaints management system. However, the Commission notes that Tasmania Police should be more prepared to enforce its policies and procedures when investigating allegations of information abuse.

A review of offences for unauthorised access to and misuse of information elsewhere in Australia, conducted as part of the investigation, indicated that Tasmania’s options were more limited. The Commission has recommended that the Premier review the existing offences of ‘Disclosure of Official Secrets’ and ‘Unauthorised Access to a Computer’ to clarify or better align them with equivalent offences in other jurisdictions.

“It is a question for the Parliament of Tasmania as to whether it should be easier to prosecute public sector employees for serious information abuse in this State,” the report says.

The report acknowledges the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions, who agrees that it would be useful to clarify the existing uncertainty in regard to interpretation of offences under the Tasmanian Criminal Code and Police Offences Act.

“The purpose of the investigation was to better understand how Tasmania Police manages information and associated risks. However the outcomes and the issues raised provide extremely valuable insights for other public sector organisations and for the Commission in continuing to work on raising levels of public integrity,” Chief Executive Officer, Richard Bingham, said.

Richard Bingham
Chief Executive Officer
20 June 2018

Media contact:
Richard Bingham
Chief Executive Officer
1300 720 289