Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

Police Commissioner entitled to lose confidence in police officer engaging in secondary employment

The Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission (WAIRC) has unanimously dismissed an appeal against the removal of a police officer over his conduct relating to secondary employment. The WAIRC found that the Commissioner of Police was entitled to have lost confidence in the integrity, honesty and conduct of the officer and that his removal was not harsh, oppressive or unfair.

During 2015 and 2016, the officer was criminally and managerially investigated in relation to matters associated with his secondary employment in which he operated a bakery.

The reasons the Commissioner lost confidence in the officer were that the officer:

  • lied to detectives and was deceptive on a number of occasions about a number of issues when they questioned him in relation to the alleged theft of bakery equipment;
  • removed bakery equipment from the premises he had previously rented without legal entitlement to do so;
  • disobeyed a lawful order by continuing to perform secondary employment after his approval to do so had been rescinded and he was directed to immediately cease the secondary employment;
  • conducted aspects of his secondary employment whilst on duty and in police uniform. This conduct included receiving money from a customer of the bakery, promoting his bakery products and making telephone calls;
  • lied to internal investigators during a managerial interview about undertaking secondary employment after his permission to perform it had been rescinded; and
  • associated with a known criminal. This included employing him, even though he suspected he was using drugs and dealing drugs from the bakery’s truck. The officer also contacted the prosecutor to have charges against the man withdrawn because he needed him to operate the business.

The officer appealed against his removal on the basis that it was harsh, oppressive, or unfair. He argued it was not reasonable open for the Commissioner:

  1. to conclude that he was guilty of the wrongdoing alleged of him, and;
  2. to have removed him for any alleged wrongdoing that is provable against him, and thus the removal was not justified to maintain the proper functioning of the Police Force.

The WAIRC dismissed both grounds of appeal. It found that, on the evidence, the Commissioner was entitled to conclude that the officer was guilty of the wrongdoing alleged of him in all but one minor aspect of those reasons. The WAIRC also found that the officer’s attitude towards his obligations and responsibilities as a police officer were subjugated to his secondary employment and commercial interests. It found that it led him to act contrary to his obligation, and that his removal was in accordance with the public interest.

The WAIRC concluded that there was there was good reason why the Commissioner would have ceased to have confidence in the officer and to take removal action. To do so was not harsh, oppressive, or unfair.

The WAIRC also expressed concern about police officers undertaking secondary employment given the real potential for conflict with the duties and obligations as police officers.

The appeal was dismissed.

The decision can be read here.

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