Section 2
Health and effectiveness of the Military Justice System

2.2 Military Discipline

Based upon evidence available from military justice audits and data from the Conduct Reporting and Tracking System (CRTS), discipline across the ADF appears to be generally well maintained and dispensed equitably and fairly. Time to investigate alleged offences disposed of at the summary level has improved markedly and, overall, offenders are brought to trial within established time frames (21 days).

Table 6 summarises actual achievement.

Table 6 - Investigation and time to summary trial duration
  INVESTIGATION DURATION
(DAYS)
CHARGE TO SUMMARY TRIAL
(DAYS)
NAVY 16 13
ARMY 2 12
AF 8 20

At unit level discipline training remains an issue. In particular, a significant number of Junior Non-Commissioned Officers (JNCO) lack sufficient DFDA knowledge to recognise that an offence may have been committed and an equally significant number of Junior Officers lack confidence in their ability to discharge their responsibilities as Defending Officers. In the latter case, ‘just in time’ training is normally provided by the unit Coxswain (Cox’n)/Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM)/Warrant Officer Disciplinary (WOD). Since ADF members in these appointments are focused on prosecution rather than acquittal, such training may be better provided through recourse to local Reserve Legal Officer panels.

In his 2007 report, the Judge Advocate General commented that the MLC continued to provide discipline law training for ADF officers designated to assume command or executive officer (XO) positions across the three Services. This included training given to five RAN courses, the one Army pre-command course, three Royal Australian Air Force commanders’ courses and eleven Squadron Leaders’ courses. Legal Officer professional development training included three Legal Training Module (LTM) level 1 courses and one each at the LTM 2 (graduate diploma level) and LTM 3 (Masters tertiary course) levels. IGADF military justice briefings to the above courses have been covered elsewhere in this report. All newly appointed prosecutors to the office of the Director of Military Prosecutions now receive on-on-one, in-house training and one prosecuting officer was seconded to the office of the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for a period of three months.

Overall, the standard of discipline across the ADF is assessed as satisfactory. Absence without leave, failing to comply with a general order and prejudicial conduct are once again, the more frequently committed lesser offences.

Two specific offences are worthy of special mention. Not surprisingly, the number of ADF members deployed on operations and equipped with personal weapons is generating a significant number of unauthorised or negligent weapon discharge offences. There were 268 such offences during the reporting period against 210 in the previous year, an increase of 27 per cent of which, consistent with relative Service strengths, the majority of offenders are Army. It is understood that Chief of Army is taking steps to remedy the situation.

Recent policy whereby most ADF members are provided a Diners Club Defence Travel Card (DTC) has given rise to a significant number of fraud convictions. See chart 9 below.

Chart 9 line chart Defence Travel Card fraud convictions. Navy: 2005 less than 20, 2006 around 20, 2007 less than 30, 2008 around 170. ArmyL 2005 less than 20, 2006 around 20, 2007 around 70, 2008 around 70. Air Force: 2005 less than 20, 2006 around 130, 2007 0, 2008 less than 60.
Chart 9 - Defence Travel Card fraud convictions 5

The downward trend in trials conducted as reported in last year’s annual report stabilised during the reporting period. Although fewer Discipline Officer scheme infringement notices were imposed, total DFDA convictions returned to year 2000 levels, suggesting that the actual overall offending rate (DFDA convictions and Discipline Officer infringement notices) has remained relatively constant over the period 2000 to 2007. Charts 10 through 13 illustrate related trends over the period.

Chart 10 Summary Trial Trends: 2000: NAVY 1061, ARMY 1768, AF 271; 2001: NAVY 934, ARMY 2254, AF 218; 2002: NAVY 1145, ARMY 1990, AF 184; 2003: NAVY 817, ARMY 1705, AF 242; 2004: NAVY 921, ARMY 1369, AF 180; 2005: NAVY 899, ARMY 1493, AF 128; 2006: NAVY 639, ARMY 1309, AF 131; 2007: NAVY 680, ARMY 1284, AF 90
 Chart 10 – Summary trial trends

Chart 11 Higher Tribunal Trial Trends: 2000: NAVY 14, ARMY 43, AF 6; 2001: NAVY 10, ARMY 28, AF 7; 2002: NAVY 11, ARMY 32, AF 6; 2003: NAVY 8, ARMY 24, AF 13; 2004: NAVY 13, ARMY 23, AF 7; 2005: NAVY 15, ARMY 38, AF 9; 2006: NAVY 11, ARMY 34, AF 9; 2007: NAVY 8, ARMY 34, AF 10
Chart 11 – Higher tribunal trial trends

Chart 12 Discipline Officer conviction trends: 2000: NAVY 707, ARMY 831, AF 425; 2001: NAVY 947, ARMY 1001, AF 385; 2002: NAVY 1013, ARMY 1701, AF 482; 2003: NAVY 782, ARMY 1330, AF 430; 2004: NAVY 473, ARMY 1616, AF 453; 2005: NAVY 1295, ARMY 1949, AF 386; 2006: NAVY 1191, ARMY 1532, AF 333; 2007: NAVY 1073, ARMY 1448, AF 268
Chart 12 – Discipline Officer Infringement trends

Chart 13 Total conviction trends: 2000: DFDA 3715, D-O 1963, TOTAL 5678; 2001: DFDA 4086, D-O 2333, TOTAL 6419; 2002: DFDA 4161, D-O 3196, TOTAL 7357; 2003: DFDA 3777, D-O 2542, TOTAL 6319; 2004: DFDA 3201, D-O 2542, TOTAL 5743; 2005: DFDA 3188, D-O 3630, TOTAL 6818; 2006: DFDA 2540, D-O 3056, TOTAL 5596; 2007: DFDA 2876, D-O 2789, TOTAL 5665
Chart 13 – Total conviction trends

As chart 14 indicates, conviction rates remain highest in Navy. This should not be viewed as a criticism. Commanding Officers have a range of administrative and disciplinary measures at their disposal to deal with behaviour or performance shortcomings, including informal counselling, remedial training, adverse administrative action, infringement notices and charges under the DFDA. It must be left to them to select the most appropriate response taking all factors into consideration.

Chart 14: Convictions per 1000 members over 2000-2007 line chart. Navy Army and Air Force lines. Navy fluctuates between 200 and 125, finishing in 2007 at around 150. Army fluctuates between 110 amd 150, finishing in 2007 around 120. Air Force fluctuates between 60 and 40, finishing in 2007 around 40.
Chart 14 – Conviction trends per 1,000 members

As chart 15 indicates, with total numbers of convictions in the 2500 to 4000 range over the period 2000 – 2007, not guilty findings are relatively few and are consistent with the traditional high rates of guilty pleas. The relatively low numbers of convictions quashed on review as shown in Chart 16 may be indicative of sounder disciplinary trial processes.

Chart 15: Not guilty finding trends. 2000: NAVY 22, ARMY 105, 29 5678; 2001: NAVY 26, ARMY 90, 23 6419; 2002: NAVY 10, ARMY 77, 13 7357; 2003: NAVY 38, ARMY 101, 57 6319; 2004: NAVY 24, ARMY 82, 23 5743; 2005: NAVY 63, ARMY 77, 16 6818; 2006: NAVY 21, ARMY 120, 18 5596; 2007: NAVY 22, ARMY 77, 22 5665
 Chart 15 – Not guilty finding trends

Chart 16: Quashed finding trends. 2000: NAVY 4, ARMY 56, 9 5678; 2001: NAVY 6, ARMY 73, 9 6419; 2002: NAVY 8, ARMY 67, 4 7357; 2003: NAVY 13, ARMY 55, 7 6319; 2004: NAVY 6, ARMY 42, 6 5743; 2005: NAVY 7, ARMY 55, 5 6818; 2006: NAVY 19, ARMY 49, 9 5596; 2007: NAVY 15, ARMY 30, 3 5665
Chart 16 – Quashed finding trends

As foreshadowed in last year’s report, the Discipline Tracking and Case Flow Management System (DTCFMS) was significantly upgraded in August 2007 and renamed the Conduct Reporting and Tracking System (CRTS). Key enhancements include:

  1. capture of alleged offences from first occurrence through the investigation phase (CRTS does not compete with or duplicate the Defence Policing and Security management System (DPSMS); although they do share a few basic data elements, they serve entirely different purposes);
  2. capture of adverse administrative action and civil convictions;
  3. the ability to identify offences committed on operations; and
  4. the ability to identify offences where the use/misuse of drugs or alcohol was a contributory factor in the commission of the offence.

As charts 17 and 18 illustrate, although data is only available for four months. It is nonetheless significant. Alcohol involvement contributes to a significant number of offences, particularly in Navy. The number of offences committed on operations or while deployed is much lower. The number of offences committed on deployment or operations where alcohol abuse is a contributory factor is negligible.

Chart 17 Offences with an alcohol involvement and/or committed on deployment
(total numbers) bar chart. Navy: All 323 Alcohol involvement 159 On deployment 50 Alcohol involvement on deployment 18. Army: All 718 Alcohol involvement 92 On deployment 64 Alcohol involvement on deployment 17. Air Force: All 57 Alcohol involvement 10 On deployment 2 Alcohol involvement on deployment 0. 
Chart 17 – Offences with an alcohol involvement and/or committed on deployment
(total numbers)

Chart 18 Offences with an alcohol involvement and/or committed on deployment
(percentages) bar chart. Navy: All 100% Alcohol involvement 49% On deployment 15% Alcohol involvement on deployment 6%. Army: All 100% Alcohol involvement 18% On deployment 9% Alcohol involvement on deployment 2%. Air Force: All 100% Alcohol involvement 18% On deployment 4% Alcohol involvement on deployment 0%
Chart 18 – Offences with an alcohol involvement and/or committed on deployment
(percentages)

  1. Inspector General Division reports extensively on DTC fraud. The division reports the number of ADF members convicted of DTC fraud rather than actual convictions. In most cases ADF members are charged with and convicted of multiple offences. This table should be interpreted accordingly