This report presents the findings of the Victorian Inspectorate (the VI) on the work and activities of the five Victorian agencies authorised to conduct controlled operations. It includes the results of the VI’s inspection of controlled operations records belonging to these agencies, as well as an assessment of the comprehensiveness and adequacy of their six-monthly reports to the VI. The five agencies are:
- Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)
- Game Management Authority (GMA)
- Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC)
- Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA)
- Victoria Police
The following Acts authorise these agencies to conduct controlled operations for the purpose of obtaining evidence that may lead to the prosecution of persons for offences (with the applicable agencies listed in parentheses):
- Crimes (Controlled Operations) Act 2004 (CCO Act)(Victoria Police and IBAC)
- Wildlife Act 1975 (Wildlife Act)(DELWP and GMA)
- Fisheries Act 1995 (Fisheries Act)(VFA)
The provisions of these Acts are generally similar; however, the Wildlife Act and Fisheries Act limit the types of offences that may be investigated and the operational scope of a controlled operation. Only Victoria Police and IBAC may apply for and be granted an urgent authority to conduct a controlled operation, and only in limited circumstances. Additionally, controlled operations undertaken by Victoria Police and IBAC are classified into cross-border, local major and local minor operations.
Law enforcement officers of these agencies may apply to the chief officer of the agency for authority to conduct a controlled operation. In the case of Victoria Police, the power to authorise controlled conduct (that is, conduct that would otherwise constitute a criminal offence) under an authority may be delegated by the Chief Commissioner to specific classes of officers. Among Victorian law enforcement agencies, almost all controlled operations are conducted by Victoria Police under the CCO Act.
The role of the VI is to independently oversight agencies authorised to conduct controlled operations. The VI is required to inspect from time to time, and at least once every 12 months, the records of agencies that have exercised their powers to conduct controlled operations in order to determine the level of statutory compliance achieved by the agency and its law enforcement officers. The VI reports on the work and activities of each agency on an annual basis to each House of Parliament, as well as the Attorney-General and chief officer of each agency.
The VI notes in this report the cooperative and transparent engagement by the officers of each agency whose records were subject to our inspection. While the VI reports on some errors, no significant compliance issues were identified. The VI commends the remedial actions taken by the relevant agencies to address the identified errors.
This report gives the inspection results for authorities that ceased, as well as the work and activities undertaken by the agency, during the 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 period – the ‘reporting period’. The VI’s biannual inspections deal with records that ceased during the preceding six-month period, and therefore this report gives findings for inspections conducted during the 2021 calendar year. The VI has not made any recommendations as a result of its inspections of controlled operations records for the reporting period.