THE ICAC is planning to improve training and support for undercover agents as the pressures they face increase. Independent Commission Against Corruption Assistant Director (Operations) Tony Godfrey said a re-examination of existing arrangements was under way. Mr Godfrey said it was imperative to take a fresh look at guidelines to ensure the success of operations - especially given the stressful nature of undercover duties and the difficulties operatives and their families faced at the end of investigations. It is understood a senior ICAC officer will depart next year for a course with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Mr Godfrey refused to specify the number of officers involved in undercover duties or the nature of their work. 'As with all law enforcement agencies, we need to use undercover officers because corruption is a very difficult crime to investigate,' he said. 'We are always looking to improve our systems to make sure our officers who undertake undercover roles receive the best training - both in terms of their handlers and managers. 'It is extremely important to give proper support to these officers. 'We will look at a number of things - and we will look to any other agency who can assist us with the most up-to-date technology.' Mr Godfrey said the ICAC had an 'open mind' on replacing existing ad hoc arrangements - where officers are selected on a random basis - with a new system in which a pool of agents was given in-depth training. The 'pool' option is favoured by many advanced law enforcement agencies. It allows a tightly knit group to be developed and given proper support during regular breaks from undercover work. At present, it is believed the ICAC uses undercover agents as phoney buyers and middlemen in cases where intelligence suggests corruption is taking place. But the stress is acute - especially when the agents return to ordinary duties. Sometimes, investigators are forced to live away from their families. Their time away from home can stretch into months. The plans to re-examine undercover procedures are not linked to an internal efficiency review or the ICAC Operational Review Committee's deliberations. However, they do coincide with mounting operational pressure. This year, after record increases in reports in 1993, public complaints of allegedly corrupt conduct have risen by about five per cent. Deputy Director, Crime, Assistant Commissioner of Police David Hodson, said police chose undercover personnel on a case-by-case basis. He said commanders took into account personality, general behaviour and maturity when they selected agents. 'It is very much dependent on the nature of the case and the scenario that the person might have to deal with,' Mr Hodson said. 'It is an essential element of modern law enforcement.'