Western Australia’s police force has increased its scrutiny of when and how officers access its restricted crime databases, driving the rate of misconduct reports to the state’s corruption watchdog through the roof.
Under WA law, all misconduct allegations against WA cops are handed to the Crime and Corruption Commission.
The CCC’s last annual report shows that in one year claims of “misuse of computer systems, email and internet” rose from the 10th most common category of allegation to the fourth most common, now accounting for 8.2 percent of all reports.
The commission has put the stark increase down to “more rigorous auditing of their restricted databases to identify breaches” by the WA Police. It said the force had indicated it intends to maintain the current level of auditing as a result.
Across the police and WA public service, 332 complaints of misuse of computer systems were registered in the year, up from just 156 in the 12 months prior.
The abuse of public sector databases is by no means a unique problem faced by the west.
Queensland’s anti-corruption agency also recorded an increase in complaints about the misuse of police and government information in 2015-16,, with information-based allegations accounting for 11.5 percent of all reports, up from 7 percent the year prior.
One Queensland officer was convicted of 50 hacking charges after using the QPrime crimes database to screen dates.
A former model discovered via a freedom of information request that her file in QPrime had been accessed more than 1400 times.