What is misconduct?
Under the Crime and Misconduct Act 2001, ‘misconduct’ refers to official misconduct or police misconduct in the Queensland public sector, which includes:
- state government departments
- the Queensland Police Service
- statutory authorities
- government-owned corporations
- local governments
- courts and prisons.
Read more about our jurisdiction.
Official misconduct is conduct that involves the exercise of a person’s official powers in a way that is:
- not honest or impartial; or
- is a breach of the trust placed in the person as a public officer; or
- involves a misuse of official information or material
- constitutes a criminal offence or is serious enough to justify dismissal.
Anyone who tries to corrupt a public sector officer can also be guilty of official misconduct if the matter involves a criminal offence.
As elected officials (e.g. politicians or councillors) do not have disciplinary systems allowing for their dismissal, in their case the conduct must be capable of amounting to a criminal offence. For less serious official misconduct, they are answerable to the public at the ballot box.
Generally, the conduct in question, if proved, must also amount to either a criminal offence or a disciplinary breach providing reasonable grounds for the person’s dismissal, for example:
- a public servant cheating on travel allowances (because it could be a criminal offence and is dishonest)
- a residential-care officer assaulting a client (because assault is a criminal offence and a breach of the trust)
- a purchasing officer of a government department accepting ‘kickbacks’ in the tendering process (because it is a criminal offence and dishonest)
- a public servant manipulating a selection panel decision to ensure that a relative gets the job (because the conduct in question could result in the dismissal of the officer concerned and lacks impartiality).
As public sector officers, police are subject to the above rules regarding ‘official misconduct’.
Reflecting the high standards we expect of them, they are also subject to a broader set of rules regarding ‘police misconduct’. This is any conduct (apart from conduct that can be defined as official misconduct) that:
- is disgraceful, improper or unbecoming a police officer
- shows unfitness to be or continue as a police officer; or
- does not meet the standard the community reasonably expects of a police officer.
- Failing to provide medical treatment to a detainee in a watchhouse
- Assaulting another patron in a night club when off-duty.