Operation Prospect - A special report to Parliament

Report of the Acting NSW Ombudsman

A special report to Parliament under s 31 of the Ombudsman Act 1974 and s 161 of the Police Act 1990

This is a report of the NSW Ombudsman investigation known as ‘Operation Prospect’.

Operation Prospect is a comprehensive investigation of allegations and complaints about the conduct of officers of the NSW Police Force (NSWPF), the NSW Crime Commission (NSWCC) and the Police Integrity Commission (PIC). Those complaints and allegations relate to certain investigations conducted by those bodies, separately and jointly, between 1999 and 2002. The Ombudsman’s investigation also examined the circumstances surrounding the unauthorised release of confidential NSWPF and NSWCC records relating to those matters.

This report was prepared by Professor McMillan, in his capacity as Acting Ombudsman. It is divided into six volumes and contains 22 chapters.

Read the Ombudsman's statement about the Operation Prospect report.

Volume 1: Introduction and background

Volume 1 explains how the Operation Prospect investigation came about and broadly describes the matters the Ombudsman investigated. The ‘About this report’ section summarises each of the chapters in the report. Chapter 1 contains notes to assist the reader.

This volume includes tables setting out all the findings and recommendations made in other volumes of the report.

  • Foreword
  • Report table of contents
  • About this report
  • Table of findings
  • Table of recommendations
  • Abbreviations
  • Common abbreviations of legislation
  • Glossary
  • Chapter 1: Background and scope of Operation Prospect
  • Chapter 2: Operation Prospect – Approach and methodology
  • Chapter 3: The Mascot investigations and Operation Florida
  • Chapter 4: Mascot structure, governance and personnel
  • Chapter 5: Mascot methodology
  • Appendix 1: Legislative amendments to enable Operation Prospect
  • Appendix 2:  Ombudsman jurisdiction
  • Appendix 3: Mascot legal and policy requirements

DOWNLOAD Volume 1: Introduction and background

Volume 2: Mascot investigations - 1999

Volume 2 discusses Mascot investigations that started in 1999 and explores some of the problematic work practices that emerged in the early stages of the Mascot Task Force.

The Ombudsman makes a number of findings and recommendations in the chapters in this volume.

  • Chapter 6: Investigation of Officers A and B
  • Chapter 7: Investigation of Messrs F, Mr N, and Officers C1 and J
  • Chapter 8: Investigation of Officers P, H and E

DOWNLOAD Volume 2: Mascot investigations - 1999

Volume 3: Mascot investigations - 2000 to 2002 

Volume 3 discusses Mascot investigations that started between 2000 and 2002. It was in this period that the Mascot Task Force started to seek warrants for listening devices (LDs) to listen to the conversations of large numbers of people.

The chapters in this volume explore how certain people were identified as investigation targets, named in warrants, and then continued to be named in subsequent warrants. They reveal deficiencies in the Mascot Task Force’s practices for evaluating allegations and investigation strategies. Some reveal unauthorised recordings and a former police officer incorrectly identified as an investigation target. Others raise concerns about conflicts of interests and long delays to resolve allegations.

The final chapter in this volume explains how a Mascot LD warrant granted on 14 September 2000 (LD 266/2000) became public on 12 April 2002.

The Ombudsman makes a number of findings and recommendations in the chapters in this volume.

  • Chapter 9: The King send-off strategy and the associated warrants
  • Chapter 10: Investigation of Officer F
  • Chapter 11: Unauthorised recordings and incorrectly naming a person as an investigation subject
  • Chapter 12: Investigation of Officers L and G
  • Chapter 13: LD warrant 266/2000 becomes public

DOWNLOAD Volume 3: Mascot investigations - 2000 to 2002

Volume 4: Mascot management of informants Paddle and Salmon

Volume 4 discusses the Mascot Task Force’s management and deployment of two informants known as ‘Paddle’ and ‘Salmon’.

The Ombudsman makes a number of findings and recommendations in the chapters in this volume.

  • Chapter 14: Deployment and management of informant ‘Paddle’
  • Chapter 15: Deployment and management of informant ‘Salmon’
  • Appendix 1: Legislative amendments to enable Operation Prospect

DOWNLOAD Volume 4: Mascot management of informants Paddle and Salmon

Volume 5: Systemic and other issues

Volume 5 explores systemic and other issues arising from the way the Mascot Task Force operated. Chapters in this volume explore Mascot’s procedures and practices and consider how the surveillance device authorisation process in NSW can be improved. Other issues discussed in this volume include the NSWPF investigation ‘Strike Force Emblems’, and what happened to the informant ‘Sea’ when Mascot became an overt investigation.

The Ombudsman makes a number of findings and recommendations in the chapters in this volume.

  • Chapter 16: Systemic failures in Mascot processes and practices
  • Chapter 17: Other matters in connection with Mascot
  • Chapter 18: NSWCC interactions with Strike Force Emblems
  • Chapter 19: Improving warrant authorisation processes

DOWNLOAD Volume 5: Systemic and other issues

Volume 6: Access to and disclosure of confidential records

Volume 6 examines the legal requirements and policy considerations that protect confidential law enforcement records. It also analyses what happened in 2010 and 2012, when confidential records about the Mascot investigations and related police internal investigations were improperly accessed and disseminated to people without proper authority to see them.

The Ombudsman makes a number of adverse comments and findings in the chapters in this volume.

  • Chapter 20: Access to and disclosure of confidential records – legal and policy considerations
  • Chapter 21: Internal access to and circulation of confidential records – events in 2010
  • Chapter 22: Public dissemination of confidential records – events in 2012
  • Appendix 4: List of confidential NSWPF and NSWCC records improperly released

DOWNLOAD Volume 6: Access to and disclosure of confidential records

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