The legislative framework that enables Victorian law enforcement agencies to conduct controlled operations imposes strict controls on their use of controlled authorities, as well as record-keeping and reporting obligations.
Through its inspections program, the VI performs an independent oversight function to determine the extent of compliance achieved by Victorian law enforcement agencies authorised to conduct controlled operations and their officers.
In order to fulfil our requirement to report to Parliament annually on the work and activities of each agency, the VI conducts six-monthly inspections of completed controlled operations files. The VI inspects hard copy documents and electronic registers to confirm agencies are keeping proper records connected with authorities to conduct a controlled operation and meeting prescribed reporting obligations.
How we assess compliance
We assess compliance based on the records made available to us at the time of inspection and our discussions with the relevant agencies, as well as the action they take in response to any issues we have raised.
The VI also assesses the reports it receives from the chief officer of each agency, which give specific details about the authorised operations conducted by the agency against statutory criteria. For the 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 period, each agency was required to make two reports to the VI in accordance with the following timeframes:
- First report – due no later than 28 February 2021;
- Second report – due no later than 31 August 2021.
These reports cover controlled operations conducted from 1 July to 31 December 2020 and 1 January to 30 June 2021, respectively.
How we report on compliance
To ensure procedural fairness, each agency is given an opportunity to comment on the VI’s findings from our inspections and furnish additional records that might assist our assessment. Following this process, the inspection results are considered finalised.
Included in this report are findings resulting from our inspection and assessment of records and documents relating to authorities to conduct controlled operations and comments on the comprehensiveness and adequacy of biannual reports provided by the agencies. We provide more detail where there is a finding of non-compliance. The VI may, in its discretion, not report on administrative issues (such as typographical or transposition errors) or instances of non-compliance where the consequences are negligible.
In accordance with the legislative framework governing the use of controlled operations by Victorian law enforcement agencies, the VI must provide a copy of this report to the chief officer of each agency to facilitate the redaction of information where, in the chief officer’s opinion, to include that information could reasonably be expected to –
- endanger a person’s safety; or
- prejudice an investigation or prosecution; or
- compromise operational activities or methodologies of the agency.
Our consultation with Victoria Police (the only agency at which operational records were inspected) has resulted in no information been excluded from the report to be tabled in Parliament.
The following sections of this report provide the results of the VI’s inspection of controlled operations records that were either cancelled or expired from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 for each Victorian law enforcement agency with the authority to conduct controlled operations. This report also includes comments on the comprehensiveness and adequacy of reports provided to the VI by each agency’s chief officer.