Investigations into Code of Conduct Breaches and Associated Legislations
Governing all investigations is the main precept of procedural fairness. By employing our stringent methodologies we ensure that procedural fairness and natural justice is applied to all aspects of our investigations. All NGS investigations adhere to the following rules and requirements:
Evidence Collection : Evidence includes a variety of information that is used to determine the substantiation or otherwise of the allegation. Evidence can include policy, procedure, legislation, codes of conduct, phone records, email traffic, reports, interviews, employment histories etc. All collected evidence needs to be collected in a procedurally fair method and appropriately preserved with adherence to the Rules of Evidence.
Rules of Evidence : NGS has clear methodologies to ensure a strong chain of evidence is maintained. We use company specific investigation kits to aid when evidence is gathered. Proper collection of evidence is maintained by not contaminating the scene and ensuring that the evidence is appropriately preserved.
NGS also has appropriate procedures in place for the continuity of exhibits, thus maintaining a verifiable chain of custody for any recovered evidence.
Hearing Rule : NGS ensures the hearing rule is adhered to thereby allowing all relevant parties the opportunity to provide information and evidence. NGS interviews are transparent and ethical and in line with public sector standards and are conducted with the use of an audio recording device and via a procedurally fair template. All interviews are conducted without bias or judgement.
Protection of Personal Information : In line with the state government requirements, NGS ensures that personal information is maintained safely and responsibly and that information is used only in the course of the investigation. NGS record keeping practices ensure the safe and confidential custody of all personal information. At the commencement of any new client relationship a Deed of Confidentiality is entered into between the client and NGS to ensure that information is preserved and managed appropriately.
Analysis : The purpose of analysis is to identify the root cause. Review of all data is conducted without bias or judgement and based upon the balance of probabilities. NGS ensures that our analysis can withstand external scrutiny given our experience in the realm of high level investigations for both the public and private sectors. NGS’ experience and exposure to administrative law has ensured that any conclusions drawn from the analysis are appropriate, relevant and accurate.
With respect to disciplinary and administrative investigations, allegations must be proved on the balance of probabilities, which means it must be more probable than not that the allegation of misconduct occurred.
Given the seriousness of some of the investigations conducted by NGS for the public sector, the evidence is analysed in accordance with the Briginshaw standard (Briginshaw v Briginshaw (1938) 60 CLR 336) which is often used and referred to during workplace investigations. The principle of the Briginshaw standard is that the more serious the allegation, the higher the degree of probability which is required to substantiate the allegation.
Issues Arising : Once the analysis is complete and the Findings have been established, the issues arising can be determined. Often when investigations are conducted, issues above and beyond the scope of services are identified. As a best practice methodology, these issues are identified and brought to the attention of the decision maker who will determine whether to or not to progress the matters in another forum.
Investigation Report : A draft report is provided to the client for review and response from appropriate stakeholders. As best practice methodology, NGS engages with the client at this point to ensure that the report is procedurally correct and meets the requirements of the agency.
Stakeholder feedback is assessed in conjunction with responses from the client and a final report is drafted. The NGS final report is supplied to the client inclusive of all relevant information such as Background, Interviews, Exhibits and Evidence, Policy & Procedures/Legislation, Analysis, Issues Arising, and Findings. Once the client has reviewed the report, NGS seeks feedback in order to improve our services and ensure continuing evolvement of best practice methodologies.
NGS has a broad client base and therefore has been exposed to many different Codes of Conduct, Misconduct Policies, Discipline Policies, Standards, Circulars, Instructions, Rules, Directives and a wide range of legislation. Additionally, NGS has been required to notify and liaise with other agencies as a legislative requirement. NGS Reports have been provided to the Corruption and Crime Commission, (CCC), WA Police, Freedom of Information Commissioner, State Records, AHPRA to name a few.