Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

Police officer’s appeal dismissed

The WAIRC unanimously dismissed an appeal against a decision by the Commissioner of Police to take removal action against a police officer.  The officer was convicted in the Perth Magistrates Court of assault occasioning bodily harm.  The Magistrate made a number of serious adverse findings against the officer, including that he had not been truthful in his sworn evidence to the court. 

An internal investigation by the Commissioner of Police found that the officer ‘displayed dishonesty, bringing his and the WA Police’s credibility into disrepute.’  The Commissioner concluded that he could no longer hold confidence in the officer because he ‘acted in a manner unbecoming of a police officer by wilfully or negligently providing false or misleading testimony in the Perth Magistrate’s Court.’ 

The officer challenged that decision on various grounds, including:

  • that the Commissioner of Police should not have based his decision on the Magistrate’s findings because they were flawed in some respects; and
  • the officer was never charged or convicted of perjury, therefore it was wrong for the Commissioner of Police to conclude that he was guilty of being untruthful in his sworn evidence. 

Chief Commissioner Scott, Senior Commissioner Kenner and Commissioner Matthews found that the Commissioner of Police reached his own view that the officer was untruthful in his evidence to the Perth Magistrates Court.  It was clear from the analysis by the Review Officer, relied on by the Commissioner of Police in reaching the decision to lose confidence in the officer, that the officer’s dishonesty was established independently of the Magistrate’s findings. 

The WAIRC also held that the Commissioner can take removal action against an officer for giving false evidence despite there being no charge or conviction for perjury.  The Commissioner of Police was entitled to draw his own conclusion about the truthfulness of the officer’s testimony independent of a criminal conviction for the conduct.  The WAIRC repeated its recent comments in Ferguson v Commissioner of Police [2017] WAIRC 00238 in that respect. 

The decision can be read here

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