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AIC report examines corruption risks to public officials

Media release

2 December 2013

Organised crime and public sector corruption – a report which analyses corruption cases where organised crime has targeted vulnerable public officials – has been released by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC).

As the Government tightens laws, and law enforcement adapts to prevent organised crime, criminal organisations will adjust their tactics in order to continue their activities without detection.

The criminals may, for example, use information from social networking sites to target public officials and their families which may lead to corrupt contact.

“The government and law enforcement must always be alert to the risk and potential impact of criminals developing new methods to circumvent the police. This report examines the ways they may target and corrupt public servants,” AIC Principal Criminologist Dr Russell Smith said.

“Public servants and police are important gatekeepers of information critical to the commission of serious crime, such as personal identity information; strategic police intelligence on how organised crime is being investigated and monitored, as well as confidential commercial information on government projects.

“Obtaining this information from insiders is an efficient means of planning a major criminal enterprise,” Dr Smith said.

Government and law enforcement must remain as incorruptible as possible to prevent crime and retain community trust.

Applying “crime script analysis” to recent corruption cases the paper concludes that other options to guard against the corruption of public officials include:

  • use of social networking services should be limited for public officials through codes of conduct with possible penalties for contraventions
  • contact between officials and high-risk informants should be monitored more rigorously
  • work place personal computer surveillance should be instituted for those in sensitive positions, as well as
  • increased education of public officials to detect and recognise corrupt behaviour.

“Governments, both Commonwealth and State must be vigilant about corruption and ensure processes and protocols are in place to guard their employees against criminal contact,” Dr Smith said.

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