New Victorian anti workplace bullying laws

New laws under which workplace bullies will be imprisoned for up to 10 years have been welcomed by the family of a 19-year-old woman who committed suicide after being tormented by workmates.

The shocking suicide of Brodie Panlock, a 19 year old woman, in 2006 after suffering prolonged workplace bullying has been the catalyst to pass new workplace bullying laws in the state of Victoria. Brodie jumped to her death after she was victimised by colleagues at Cafe Vamp in Hawthorn over a long period.

Under proposed new laws, workplace bullies could be imprisoned for up to ten years. A Victorian government spokesperson said the Government’s amendments will add workplace and cyber bullying to Victoria’s Crimes Act.

The family of Brodie has lobbied government to seek to make workplace bullying the subject of criminal charges ion the future.  The Victorian Attorney-General agreed and said that “serious bullying was a serious crime” and should carry a significant jail term.

The ACTU [Australian Council of Trade Unions] President, Ged Kearney, said employers, governments and workers all shared a responsibility to make workplaces safe, secure and free of harassment.

“These laws will hopefully help deter people from undesired behavior but it shouldn’t suggest to employers that it’s no longer their job to provide a safe workplace for all employees,” Ms Kearney said.

Ms Kearney said she hoped that the increased penalties would deter all people from workplace bullying, but she wanted the Government to also send a strong message to employers that holding individual bullies to account would not absolve workplaces of their obligations.

It is anticipated that other states and territories governments across Australia will review their own work place bullying acts. This is likely to provoke companies and organizations to enhance their own anti bullying procedures to avoid the adverse publicity plus the likelihood that they took make be liable for increased fines or other regulatory punishments.

Therefore, it is recommended that all executive and management teams review their own anti bullying procedures [or check that they even have one] as soon as possible. These procedures should at least include the following:

  • Make sure that they have clear written rules and regulations indicating that workplace bullying or harassment is contravention of company policy and may lead to the suspension or expulsion of those found to have engaged in bullying
  • Ensure that all personnel undergo training and provided with an information package to inform all employees, contractors, managers and executives  to prevent, detect and report on any bullying activity
  • Arrange for follow up reminders on work place bullying at regular intervals, usually combined with other personal training
  • Appoint a responsible officer to administer and review the training and reporting of bullying – recording progress and making these figures available to senior management
  • Senior management should review all anti bullying programs annually for improvements and in response to any reported cases
  • The responsible officer should also focus special attention on those that may be more vulnerable to bullying activities such as new younger employees or new recruits
  • The anti workplace bullying stance should be connected to an effective whistleblower program so that any victims or witnesses can report their concerns anonymously if necessary
  • A qualified and experienced investigation team should be available to make rapid inquiries into the allegations should an offence take place or be reported
  • A suitable executive should be on hand to make a rapid decision such as suspension of alleged perpetrators to prevent the bullying continuing and the contamination of any witnesses or  evidence
  • Have legal counsel review the legal environment to ensure the program is complaint across all states and territories

Do you need to know more about our services and how Regents can assist you with anti bullying issues and whistleblower programs? Simply go to our Whistleblower Page for our phone numbers or else send an email to contactus@regentsriskadvisory.com with your contact details and we will respond at once.

Mobile phone hacking scandal rumbles on

It is four years since the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World newspaper [the leading UK Sunday newspaper] saw the newspaper’s former royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, jailed for his part in hacking into the mobile phone voicemails of Princes William & Harry. It appears that Clive Goodman was so desperate for a `story’, he resorted to engaging a Private Investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, to hack into the voicemail messages of the Princes for leads and gossip.

The two were found out when members of the Royal household noticed that messages they had yet to access were marked as `read’ plus Clive Goodman published a vanilla story in the News of the World about one of the Princes having medical treatment for his knee – almost word for word from a voice mail left for the Prince.

Four years ago the  News of the World  claimed that the phone hacking was the product of one misguided journalist and the private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire. An investigation was undertaken by the Metropolitan Police and there was enough evidence to prosecute these two. They both went to gaol. That was the end of that.

But it wasn’t. Rumours swirled around that in fact many of the journalists at the News of the World had used Glenn Mulcaire to gain access to the voicemail of celebrities and even senior politicians. Further allegations surfaced that in fact the Metropolitan Police had stacks of evidence that showed the phone hacking went far beyond the two Princes and also involved far more journalists within the News of the World. But the Metropolitan Police were flaccid in their investigation – followed by suggestions that senior Police officers had relationship with the publishers of the News of the World. Lord Prescott, Former Deputy Prime Minister and alleged victim of the phone hacking scam, is now seeking a judicial review into Scotland Yard’s handling of the investigation.

But the matter was kept alive by the Guardian and New York Times newspapers– both direct competitors to the publishers of the News of the World. Things were further complicated when Andy Coulson, former editor of the News of the World, was promoted to be a media advisor to David Cameron, the newly elected Prime Minister.

Coulson has denied knowing of the hacking but many doubt how valid this claim is. In court testimony for another matter, Andy Coulson said under oath the refrain that the phone hacking was due to one isolated journalist. However, Coulson must have known that Glenn Mulcaire was officially being paid ₤100,000 per year plus additional cash handouts – for doing what exactly? Some wonder whether any fresh evidence could disprove the sworn testimony of Andy Coulson and expose him to the charge of perjury. Stranger things have happened.

And now the stonewall put in place by the News of the World has some serious cracks in it. Each week in the UK another celebrity announces legal action against the News of the World, claiming that their privacy has been invaded by the phone hacking.

Some celebrities are taking separate legal action against Glenn Mulcaire directly for the phone hacking whilst he in turn is appealing against a decision to make him divulge which journalists on the News of the World hired him to hack the  phones.

The Police have now admitted that they had seized multiple pages of phone details from Glenn Mulcaire with first names handwritten on each – supposedly by Mulcaire indicating which journalist within the News of the World was requesting the information. Will Mulcaire declare who ordered what phones to be hacked? Will he name names? The News of the World news editor, Ian Edmondson, had been suspended amid allegations relating to the phone hacking of actress Sienna Miller’s phone.

Lawyers acting for alleged victims of the phone hacking suggest that there may have been thousands of victims. Around 3,000 phone numbers were listed in documents seized by Police back in 2006 and telephone records for Glenn Mulcaire show multiple calls from his own phone to the numbers used by celebrities – the path of evidence should be fairly easy to follow. How vigorously will the Police pursue it this time round?

This one will run and run.

How was the phone hacking conducted?
For some mobile phones, it is possible to listen to any voicemails by dialing an access number, enter the mobile phone number followed by the PIN.

Often the user either leaves the PIN as the default – usually `0000’ – or else chooses a simple PIN like 1234 or 1111. On some occasions, the hacker may get the PIN via dumpster diving or else under pretext – calling the phone provider pretending to be the owner and asking for the PIN.

How to protect yourself from phone hacking?

  • Choose an irregular PIN such as 4729 or 8147
  • Do not record the PIN in an accessible place i.e. a post-it note on your desk or in your diary
  • Change your PIN every few months
  • Observe whether any voicemail messages have been designated as accessed before you have viewed them
  • Report any suspicions you may have to your mobile phone provider and insist that they investigate the matter
  • Do not pass your PIN to anyone else

In the meantime, wasn’t it The Jam that sang the lines:

Each morning our key to the world comes through the door
More than often its just a comic, not much more
Don’t take it too serious – not many do
Read between the lines and you’ll find the truth

Read all about it, read all about it – news of the world

Read all about it, read all about it – news of the world

Do you need to know more about our services and how Regents can assist you with mobile phone forensics or computer forensics? Simply go to our Computer Forensics page for our phone numbers or else send an email to contactus@regentsriskadvisory.com with your contact details and we will respond at once.

Police use FaceBook to serve intervention order on people they can’t find

Australian Police have taken the unusual step of serving an intervention order via social networking site FaceBook. The order seeks to ban the accused cyber-stalker from bullying, threatening or intimidating another internet user.

In the Australian first, the Police Constable had a video shot of him reading out the interim intervention order to the accused person, as if he was directly speaking to the individual and then made to serve the order.

The order, with an explanation plus contact details for the Police and the Court were typed up and sent in private messages to the person’s FaceBook account.

The complaint arose after a woman claimed that her former boyfriend had harassed and bullied her via their FaceBook accounts. The woman felt intimidated and made a report to the Police.

The boyfriend had been the subject of an earlier intervention order but this had lapsed when the woman was re-contacted by her former boyfriend via her FaceBook account. The Police sought to physically locate the boyfriend but could not find him at his last known address or place of work. Efforts to track him via his FaceBook account indicated he was in Australia.

This new and innovative approach to serving the intervention order was upheld by a magistrate despite the former boyfriend not attending court in person. The order also required the former boyfriend to remove his FaceBook profile.

However, initially the Police could not be certain that the boyfriend had read the private messages though it was confirmed that the video had not been viewed. When the Police did manage to locate the boyfriend he confirmed he had read the FaceBook messages.

The Police expect having to use the internet and social networking sites to locate, contact and warn offenders in the future especially when the offence has been committed online.

Do you need to know more about our services and how Regents can assist you with investigations? Simply go to our Contact Us page for our phone numbers or else send an email to contactus@regentsriskadvisory.com with your contact details and we will respond at once.