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The Surveillance Devices Act imposes strict controls on the use of surveillance devices by Victorian law enforcement agencies, including the use and communication of information obtained by the use of such devices, and sets out reporting obligations. It also imposes requirements for the secure storage and destruction of records or reports containing information obtained by the use of surveillance devices.
The VI performs an independent oversight function to determine the extent of compliance achieved by law enforcement agencies that have exercised their powers under the SD Act.
The VI is required to inspect the records of these agencies from time to time to determine the extent of compliance with the SD Act. In order to fulfil our requirement to report to Parliament at 6-monthly intervals, the VI conducts biannual inspections of:
- surveillance device warrants
- emergency authorisations
- retrieval warrants,
which ceased during the preceding 6-month period. As noted in the Overview section, inspection postponements caused by COVID-19 mean the inspections conducted from 1 January to 30 June 2021 dealt with records for all of 2020.
How we assess compliance
The VI inspects hard copy documents and electronic registers with the primary purpose of ensuring that records connected with the issue of surveillance device warrants, and other records connected with the use of devices, are being properly kept.
The VI will also confirm that each law enforcement agency has met its prescribed reporting obligations. We assess compliance based on the records made available to us at the time of inspection, our discussions with the relevant agencies, as well as the action they take in response to any issues we have raised.
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 to furnish additional records that might assist our assessment. Following this process, the inspection results are considered finalised.
The report provides detail where there is a finding of non-compliance. The VI may, at its discretion, not report on administrative issues (such as typographical or transposition errors) or instances of non-compliance where the consequences are negligible.
The following sections of this report provide the results of the VI’s inspection of surveillance records from 1 January to 30 June 2021. Inspection results are reported on separately for each Victorian law enforcement agency with the authority to exercise powers under the SD Act.
Reviewed 04 April 2022