Dear Ms Priestley
I refer to your article of 3 July 2009 in Lawyers Weekly titled 'Australian Crime Commission operation scrutinised'.
As Australia's National Criminal Intelligence Agency, the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) plays a vital role in protecting the nation from the serious and damaging impacts of organised crime through intelligence gathering and investigations. While this can and does occur through arrests and preferring criminal charges, this is not the ACC's only focus or performance measure, as articulated in the Portfolio Budget Statement 2009-10.
In your article you make a comparison between the New South Wales Crime Commission (NSWCC) and the ACC. While we work very closely with the NSWCC, their capability is different and it is potentially misleading to make such a comparison. You are not comparing like with like. For example, the NSWCC is state focussed with a single office in Sydney. The ACC on the other hand is a national body with offices in every state of Australia except Tasmania and two offices in the Northern Territory.
The ACC manages and provides a national intelligence system and connectivity to all jurisdictions and relevant Commonwealth agencies. Naturally the business model of the two agencies must be different in terms of scope and cost.
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Justice and Public Security Jason Wood is correct in stating that ACC officers don't normally make arrests. As a matter of course, nor do we need to. We work closely with our partner law enforcement agencies on joint operations and taskforces, and arrests that are made in relation to ACC operations are often made by officers from these partner agencies either with us or as a result of ACC intelligence. There are many examples of this.
The ACC will not do anything unless it is for or with a key stakeholder. Partnerships are the strongest crime fighting tool law enforcement has at its disposal. Rather than measuring our success just by the number of arrests, I would suggest that the ACC's value is measured by the way our intelligence enables law enforcement agencies to target their resources and capabilities in the most effective way to dismantle high end organised crime within our community. This is what intelligence led policing is all about.
Whilst any agency would like more staff to enhance their performance, the ACC does have arrangements with partner agencies where seconded staff and other capacities are leveraged in close collaboration with these agencies. Seconded staffing allocation figures can change on a monthly and sometimes weekly basis depending on operational requirements.
I share the concerns of the Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the ACC, around a lack of ability to remove staff from the ACC where I have lost confidence in their integrity. This is a very necessary anti-corruption mechanism and I strongly believe it is needed in the ACC, of course with appropriate safe guards.
I thank you for the opportunity to provide clarity on the ACC's performance and focus and would be happy to talk to you further on the important work that the ACC performs.
John Lawler APM
Chief Executive Officer
05 August 2009
To read the Lawyers Weekly article please click here