The Andrews Labor Government has today announced that it will establish a Royal Commission to independently inquire into Victoria Police’s recruitment and management of one of its informants.
The informant was a criminal defence barrister for several people who were convicted of criminal offences over the past two decades. At the same time, this barrister acted as an informant to Victoria Police about some of these people.
The decision of the High Court released today calls into question whether some convictions have occurred fairly and in accordance with law.
The integrity of the criminal justice system is paramount and all people charged with crimes are entitled to a fair trial, no matter who they are.
The Victorian Government has received assurances from Victoria Police that its practices have changed since the barrister’s recruitment as an informant, and an IBAC report in 2015, which inquired into Victoria Police’s management of informants, did not find that any unlawful conduct had occurred.
The Victorian community, however, has a right to further independent assurance that these past practices have been stamped out, as well as an understanding of what happened in this instance. The Royal Commission will provide that assurance.
The terms of reference will be finalised once Commissioners are appointed, but the inquiry will consider matters including:
- The number of, and extent to which, cases were affected by the conduct of informant 3838 as a human source, and the recruitment, handling and management of 3838 as a human source by Victoria Police
- The adequacy of current management processes for human sources with legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege, including continued compliance with the recommendations of the 2015 IBAC report
- The use in the criminal justice system of information from human sources who are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege. including whether there are adequate safeguards in the way in which cases are assessed and recommended for prosecution, and prosecuted by Victoria Police and the Office of Public Prosecutions
- Recommended measures that may be taken to address any systemic or other failures in Victoria Police’s processes for the recruitment, handling and management of human sources who are subject to legal obligations of confidentiality or privilege, and in the use of such human source information in the broader criminal justice system, including how those failures may be avoided in future.
The inquiry will provide an interim report by 1 July 2019 and provide a final report by 1 December 2019.
As noted by Premier Daniel Andrews
“While these events took place many years ago, the Victorian public has a right to know that every part of the justice system acts fairly and lawfully at all times.”
As noted by Attorney-General Jill Hennessy
“Only a Royal Commission will get the answers needed so that something like this can never happen again.”
As noted by Police Minister Lisa Neville
“Victoria Police has changed the way it handles informants, but a Royal Commission will provide greater public certainty that these changes are here to stay.”