New South Wales Attorney General Mark Speakman
Surveillance Device Use Under More Scrutiny
Victor P Taffa
Major crime and corruption lawyer Don McKenzie has been appointed as the first Surveillance Devices Commissioner in New South Wales, Attorney General Mark Speakman announced today.
Attorney General Speakman said the establishment of a Surveillance Devices Commissioner is part of the New South Wales Government’s response to the Ombudsman’s Operation Prospect probe into conduct of state law enforcement officers during investigations between 1999-2002.
“Mr. McKenzie has 26 years of knowledge and legal experience in the conduct of high-level criminal investigations and prosecutions in New South Wales. As commissioner he will be responsible for providing greater scrutiny of applications for surveillance device warrants to ensure covert tools are used appropriately.” Attorney General Speakman said.
Mr. McKenzie has held senior roles at the New South Wales Crime Commission, Independent Commission Against Corruption, the New South Wales Police Force, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. He is currently working for the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime.
During this time, Mr. McKenzie dealt extensively with applications for the use of surveillance devices and warrants.
He was Director of Legal Services at the New South Wales Crime Commission during the final stages of Operation Prospect and provided advice on how to respond to the Ombudsman’s recommendations.
New South Wales Police Force and the New South Wales Crime Commission have since introduced stronger internal procedures and training to help ensure covert warrants are used correctly in criminal investigations.
“While there have been significant improvements, Mr. McKenzie will provide extra scrutiny of surveillance device applications, which are vital in gathering evidence to secure prosecutions against organised crime figures.” Attorney General Speakman said.
As commissioner, Mr. McKenzie will receive advance notice of surveillance device warrant applications, have the right to be heard by a judge in relation to the granting of a warrant and receive reports about the use of a warrant from law enforcement agencies. He will also deliver annual reports that will include figures on how often warrants are sought and granted.
Appointment of the commissioner involved an extensive and rigorous recruitment process. Mr. McKenzie will begin his new role on 4 November.