Surveillance Devices Commissioner To Be Established

Surveillance Devices Commissioner To Be Established

New South Wales Attorney General Mark Speakman

New Commissioner Eyes Surveillance Devices

Victor P Taffa

A new commissioner will be appointed to provide greater scrutiny of applications for surveillance device warrants under legislation introduced into Parliament today.

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 and 2002.

Attorney General Mark Speakman said the commissioner will be given scrutiny powers previously exercised by the New South Wales Solicitor General.

“Overseeing surveillance device warrants will be the commissioner’s sole responsibility, which will help to make sure the covert tools are appropriately targeted.” Attorney General Speakman said.

“New South Wales Government’s package of legislative measures will increase public confidence in the use of surveillance devices by New South Wales law enforcement agencies.”

NSW Police Force and the NSW Crime Commission have introduced stronger internal procedures and training to help ensure covert warrants are used correctly in criminal investigations.

“Changes further address mistakes of the past and provide additional scrutiny of surveillance device applications which are vital in gathering evidence to prosecute organised crime figures.” Attorney General Speakman said.

Commissioner 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.

Commissioner will be an Australian legal practitioner with at least 7 years’ experience, who is a former judge or eligible to be appointed as a judge. The appointee will be required to deliver annual reports that include how often warrants are sought and granted.

Operation Prospect was the largest ever investigation by an ombudsman in Australia, spanning 4 years.

 

Abbreviations:

NSW               New South Wales