The New South Wales Crime Commission (‘the Commission’) is a criminal intelligence organisation. It is important to seek legal advice and representation should you be investigated or compelled to give evidence before it.
What is the New South Wales Crime Commission?
The NSW Crime Commission is a statutory corporation of the Government of New South Wales. It is constituted by the Crime Commission Act 2012 (NSW) (‘the Act’). There is also a federal-based crime commission, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
The purpose of the Commission is to reduce organised crime, serious crime or criminal activity in NSW.
The Commission investigates crimes that its Management Committee refers to it.
The Management Committee comprises:
- An independent Chairperson appointed by the Minister;
- The Commissioner of Police;
- The Chair of the Board of the Australian Crime and Intelligence Commission;
- The Commissioner for the NSW Crime Commission; and
- The Secretary of the Department of Justice or a senior executive of that Department nominated by the Secretary.
The Commission also administers the Criminal Assets Recovery Act 1990 (NSW). It works closely with the NSW Police Force, and also collaborates with the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
The far-reaching powers of the NSW Crime Commission
The media often describes the Commission as a ‘secretive organisation’ – and rightfully so. It has the most far-reaching powers of any law enforcement body in NSW.
Issuing search warrants
Section 17 of the Act allows the Commission to issue search warrants.
These search warrants may authorise a variety of investigation activities, including:
- a notice to produce a document;
- the seizure of any object;
- the search for, and recording of, any fingerprint or forensic sample;
- to dig up land; and
- the power to copy any relevant document.
Summoning to appear in a hearing
Section 24 of the Act allows the Commission to summons a person to participate in an examination hearing.
An examination hearing before the Commission is rather different to a court hearing and people have very limited rights.
There is no right to silence in the Commission. Consequently, you may have to answer questions that will incriminate yourself. You may be able to obtain an indemnity from the Commission that any evidence you give at the commission will not be used against you in court in criminal proceedings.
The Commission is also not bound by rules of evidence.
Compelling production of documents
Section 29 of the Act allows the Commission to compel the production of documents or other material that are relevant to an investigation under its purview. Notably, it may share these documents with the NSW Police Force or the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Power to “do all things necessary”
Section 14 of the Act gives the Commission the power to do all things necessary for or in connection with, or reasonably incidental to, the exercise of its functions. This can include the use of:
- telephone intercepts,
- covert operations,
- covert warrants,
- tracking devices,
- joint tasks and surveillance in their investigations.
Seeking legal advice for the NSW Crime Commission
Due to the far-reaching powers of the NSW Crime Commission, it’s very important to obtain legal advice prior to any involvement.