The Inspector of the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (the LECC) is an independent statutory officer whose primary role is to provide oversight of the LECC and its officers in the manner in which it carries out its functions. The Office of the Inspector of LECC is a separate agency from LECC which is responsible for dealing with complaints of misconduct by officers of NSW Police Force and officers of the NSW Crime Commission.
The Inspector’s functions are set out in Part 9 of the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission Act 2016 (“the LECC Act”).The Inspector has the following principal functions:
(a) to audit the operations of the Commission for the purpose of monitoring compliance with the law of the State, and
(b) to deal with (by reports and recommendations) conduct amounting to agency maladministration on the part of the Commission and conduct amounting to officer misconduct or officer maladministration on the part of officers of the Commission, whether or not the subject of a complaint (Commission misconduct matters), and
(c) to assess the effectiveness and appropriateness of the policies and procedures of the Commission relating to the legality or propriety of its activities.
The Inspector also has quite separate functions as an inspecting officer under various pieces of legislation which concern the operation of covert warrants in NSW.
The Inspector has extensive powers to investigate the conduct of the LECC and its officers. The Inspector may do any of the following:
(a) investigate any aspect of the Commission’s operations or any conduct of officers of the Commission,
(b) require officers of the Commission to supply information or produce documents or other things about any matter, or any kind of matter, relating to the Commission’s operations or any conduct of officers of the Commission,
(c) require officers of the Commission to attend before the Inspector to answer questions or produce documents or other things relating to the Commission’s operations or any conduct of officers of the Commission,
(d) investigate and assess Commission misconduct matters,
(e) refer matters relating to the Commission or officers of the Commission to other agencies for consideration or action,
(f) recommend disciplinary action or criminal prosecution against officers of the Commission.
In addition, the Inspector has the powers, authorities, protections and immunities conferred on a commissioner by Division 1 of Part 2 of the Royal Commissions Act 1923 and that Act (section 13 excepted) applies to any witness summoned by or appearing before the Inspector in the same way as it applies to a witness summoned by or appearing before a commissioner.
Limits of Inspector’s Jurisdiction
Although the Inspector has extensive powers, it is critical to appreciate that the Inspector’s jurisdiction is confined to what Parliament has provided for. That means that there are limitations upon what can be done and, just as importantly, what cannot be done by the Inspector.
The Inspector’s functions and powers relate solely to complaints about the conduct of LECC and/or its officers. The Inspector is thus unable to deal with complaints about the conduct of other public agencies and officials. Nor can the Inspector deal directly with complaints about NSW Police Force or NSW Crime Commission misconduct, which is a matter for LECC.
In the final analysis, the Inspector is only able to provide reports and recommendations. It follows that the Inspector does not have the power to direct LECC’S activities. So far as reviewing actions of LECC is concerned, the Inspector is also limited in the exercise of his statutory functions. For example, he does not have the power to alter or reverse the decisions made by LECC. In other words, the Inspector does not operate as an appeal body. It follows that the Inspector has no power to review complaints dealt with by LECC unless they constitute agency or officer maladministration or officer misconduct.