WA prisoner officer sacked over failure to disclose a conflict of interest

Commission ruled that the dismissal was 'a proportionate response' for the misconduct

WA prisoner officer sacked over failure to disclose a conflict of interest

The Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission has recently found that the dismissal of a prison officer was lawful because he failed to disclose the true nature of his personal relationship with a prisoner. The Minister for Corrective Services suspended the police officer and an investigation commenced into allegations of misconduct. The allegations include his allegedly false declaration of the nature of his relationship with a prisoner and his “dishonest and misleading information,” among others.

The officer worked for the Department of Justice for over ten years until he was summarily dismissed for misconduct. According to records, the officer returned from annual leave in February 2020 and submitted a declaration of conflict of interest to declare an association or relationship with a prisoner, “S.” In his declaration, the officer said that he knew S “through attendance at a church.”

In dismissing the officer, the Minister explained that prison officers are in “a position of trust” and “integrity and honesty” were essential in his work. The officer submitted that he was not guilty of the allegations. He also said that the Minister did not “uphold procedural fairness or provide sufficient enquiry.” The officer further argued that the allegations were “inadequate or not clearly articulated.” Thus, he filed an unfair dismissal application before the Commission.

It was found that the officer had “close interactions” with S, including regularly socialising with the latter. Records also show that S went to the officer’s home and went on a holiday together. The Commission found that the Minister conducted “a fair and thorough inquiry.” The Commission also considered that the officer “displayed a lack of integrity, judgment and insight.”

The Commission dismissed the officer’s application, ruling that his dismissal was not “harsh, oppressive or unjust.”

The decision was handed down on 19 November 2021.

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