'Deadly' inter-agency rivalry to be tackled by intelligence swapping plan

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 July, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 July, 1995, 12:00am

THE ICAC is pushing for joint investigations with the police and for the formation of an intelligence swapping mechanism as part of far-reaching proposals aimed at further defusing inter-agency tension.

These were the most recent recommendation to emerge from last month's inaugural formal meeting between the two groups.

Acting head of operations for the Independent Commission Against Corruption Tony Kwok Man-wai said achieving greater closeness with the police was being explored in order to boost co-operation and better utilise resources.

But he said there were limits on how many secrets could be shared.

Mr Kwok said the commission had co-operated on selected cases, mainly Commercial Crime Bureau matters and an inquiry which resulted in the prosecution of a constable who stole heroin from a drugs safe. However, there was scope for broader joint efforts.

This could start once a suitable protocol was established. 'There is no doubt there is more scope for these joint investigations,' Mr Kwok said.

'Of course, we have combined effort on previous occasions but we think we should do it on a more regular basis now. It all speaks more about the need for closer co-operation.

'In terms of intelligence, this is another area worth looking at. There are certainly targets out there that are of great interest to both of us so I think it is important that we actually exchange intelligence.' After the formal meeting in June - recommended by the ICAC Review Committee to alleviate simmering rivalry - several initiatives were discussed, including intelligence sharing.

These are now being progressed by working groups in both agencies.

Assistant Commissioner (Crime) David Hodson said the ICAC and police were aware of the limitations of enhanced co-operation.

'If we are dealing with important investigations and significant work, the most damaging thing by far - and it is deadly - is inter-agency rivalry,' said Mr Hodson.

'You don't have to be in bed with each other, nor is it wise to be naively open with another party. We don't need to know their targets and neither do they of us.

'What needs to happen is to improve the co-operation but not [to] an extent that we are actually frustrating each other in our efforts.' In the past few months, a number of decisions have underscored improvements in the inter-agency partnership.

In May, the ICAC gave permission for 25 surveillance officers to testify in a high-profile case against allegedly corrupt police. This represented the first time such a number of undercover agents had won approval to give formal evidence.

Last month, it emerged that the ICAC and police would seek to draft a common formula for the payment of criminal informants in the light of suggestions that some people were securing higher payments.

Both parties were also concerned that informants were being paid twice for the same information.