Police ethics head dodges criminal charges

Victoria’s corruption watchdog has found the former deputy of the police ethical standards unit risked damaging the integrity of police investigations by posting “inappropriate” material under pseudonyms online.

However it said the former Assistant Commissioner of the Professional Standards Command, Brett Guerin, would not face criminal charges despite his behaviour being offensive.

Operation Turon probed allegations about Mr Guerin’s conduct as well as the adequacy of Victoria Police policies around internet and social media use by employees.

Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption (IBAC) Commissioner Robert Redlich QC announced in March that Operation Turon would examine Mr Guerin’s conduct in posting inappropriate material under various pseudonyms on social media.

“It will also examine the extent to which Mr Guerin’s conduct, in his role as the head of Professional Standards Command or otherwise, may have affected the investigation and outcomes of matters where racism and other potential breaches of anti-discrimination or human rights law may have been relevant,” Mr Redlich said at the time.

The comments were described by Commissioner Graham Ashton at the time as “shocking” and “abhorrent”. They also referenced former police commissioner Christine Nixon.

Mr Guerin resigned from the force in February 2018.

No evidence of bias

In a statement issued earlier this month the IBAC said after investigating it had found “no evidence of actual bias” against former Assistant Commissioner Brett Guerin, and while his conduct was “generally offensive” it didn’t merit filing criminal charges.

“Regardless of this, this behaviour risked damaging the integrity of, and confidence in, Victoria Police investigations,” IBAC said.

The commission said it had identified opportunities for improvements in Victoria Police policies and practices and informed them of its findings.

It is preparing a special report for parliament focusing on leadership failures in the force and drawing on issues highlighted in recent investigations involving allegations of misconduct and corruption by senior police leaders.

IBAC is has also launched an audit of police handling of complaints focusing on 55 files involving Aboriginal complainants that were closed by Victoria Police in 2018.

Both reports are expected to be finalised next year.

Meanwhile the commission has commenced the hunt for a new CEO following the decision of Alistair Maclean to resign after six and a half years.

Mr Maclean, who led the agency since its inception, had helped build corruption resistant approach to the state’s public sector, including Victoria Police, Mr Redlich said.

He said Mr Maclean would vacate his post at the end of the year to pursue other opportunities.

More information about the position is available here.

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