The head of Western Australia's Corruption and Crime Commission has commented on a string of “spectacular own goals” by the corruption watchdog in recent years.

Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) chief John McKechnie says it could take years for the organisation to regain the public's trust.

In an interview this week, Mr McKechnie reflected on the damage from revelations of a covert operations unit within the CCC, which was found to have engaged in serious and systemic corruption.

The ‘Operational Support Unit’ is alleged to have done a range of things the CCC exists to prevent, including misusing identities and even falsifying records.

The dodgy practices have led to several criminal charges, and seen a number of staff dismissed by the commission.

Mr McKechnie says the issues have shattered the CCC's public standing.

“The CCC has been subject to a fairly effective whispering campaign against it over many years and of course it has kicked some spectacular own goals a couple of years ago,” he told ABC radio.

“We had a covert unit who quite frankly engaged in lawless behaviour ... as a West Australian it was extraordinarily disappointing for what should be the integrity agency above all.

“Its reputation is blighted and it is responsible for a fair bit of that.

“It will take more than just a little publicity to reassure the public and regain the public trust, that will take years and effective work on our part.”

Mr McKechnie said the quality of commission staff he had seen since taking over was impressive, but that the previous issues were still dampening employee morale.

On a related topic, he also questioned why elected officials and public servants should be able to receive gifts, as he could see no way it was necessary.