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Queensland Judgments

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Authorised Reports & Unreported Judgments
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Crime and Corruption Commission v Deputy Commissioner Barnett & Anor  
Unreported Citation: [2017] QCA 320
EDITOR'S NOTE

This decision concerns a question of statutory interpretation referred by the President of QCAT.  The issue was whether the Deputy Commissioner of Police has the power to impose a suspended sanction of dismissal on a police officer under reg 5 of the Police Service (Discipline) Regulations 1990 or whether the power was limited to one conferred by reg 12.  The court held that the power was not limited to disciplines conferred by reg 12.  

Gotterson and McMurdo JJA and Bond J

22 December 2017

The First Respondent was the Deputy Commissioner of Police.  The Second Respondent, Constable Hopkins, was a constable in the Queensland Police Service (QPS). [2]. This decision considers the following question, referred by the President of QCAT: 

“Upon the proper construction of section 7.4(3) of the Police Service Administration Act 1990 [‘the Act’] and regulation 5 of [the Regulations], was it within the First Respondent’s power to suspend a sanction of dismissal imposed on the Second Respondent subject to the conditions specified in the First Respondent’s order made on 21 December 2015?” [1].

On 21 December 2015, the Deputy Commissioner imposed a disciplinary sanction that Constable Hopkins be dismissed from the QPS, but that the dismissal be suspended on certain conditions.

The suspended dismissal was expressly imposed pursuant to reg 5 of the Regulations, which provides that the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner “may order that [QPS officers] be disciplined in a manner that appears … to be warranted.” [2], [7].

Regulation 12 imparts on a “prescribed officer” a more limited power to suspend disciplinary sanctions on specific conditions, provided the subject officer agrees to the conditions imposed. [10].

The question referred was, in effect, whether the Act and Regulations authorised the conditionally suspended dismissal otherwise than pursuant to reg 12. [15]. The applicant Crime and Corruption Commission submitted no, that reg 5 simply preserved to the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner sanctions available elsewhere. [18], [20]. The Respondent submitted yes, s 7.4(3) of the Act and/or reg 5 were “sufficiently ample” to authorise that sanction. [28].

Justice Gotterson (Bond J agreeing, McMurdo JA dissenting) answered the question in the affirmative.  In reaching that determination, his Honour emphasised the underlying policy consideration that favoured not limiting the power of the Commissioner to suspend the operation of the discipline to one conferred by reg 12 as then the Commissioner would be unable to suspend a discipline which, having regard to the seriousness of the crime, ought not have the benefit of rescission and being taken never to have been imposed.  [33]–[37].

K W Gover of Counsel