This report presents the results of the inspections conducted by the Victorian Inspectorate (the VI) from 1 January to 30 June 2021 of records belonging to the following 5 Victorian agencies authorised to use surveillance devices:
- Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
- Game Management Authority
- Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission
- Victorian Fisheries Authority
The Surveillance Devices Act 1999 (the SD Act) provides the legislative framework for these agencies to use surveillance devices to investigate, or obtain evidence of the commission of, an offence that has been, is being, is about to be, or is likely to be, committed.
Law enforcement officers of these agencies can apply to the Supreme Court for a surveillance device warrant with respect to the following types of devices:
For tracking devices only, an application may also be made to the Magistrates’ Court. Victoria’s Public Interest Monitor (PIM) is entitled to make submissions on warrant applications. In addition to court-issued warrants, senior officers of Victoria Police and IBAC can, in certain emergency situations, authorise the use of surveillance devices.
The role of the VI is established by the SD Act, and ensures independent oversight of the above agencies with respect to compliance with the Act. The VI is required to inspect from time to time the records of each agency and report on the results of its inspections at 6-monthly intervals to each House of Parliament as well as the Attorney-General. The use of surveillance devices by Victorian government agencies is highly intrusive, and therefore the VI’s role is designed to assure the public that the lawfulness of agency actions is subject to independent checks.
As a result of interruptions to the VI’s inspection program in 2020 caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the inspections of surveillance device records scheduled for the 1 July to 31 December 2020 period were postponed until the inspection period covered by this report. Rather than only deal with records for a 6-month period (ordinarily the 6 months that immediately precedes the inspection period), the inspections conducted from 1 January to 30 June 2021 dealt with records for all of 2020. This report therefore gives findings for warrants that ceased, destruction activity taken and evidentiary certificates issued during the 2020 calendar year. The VI inspected 100% of the records made available at the inspections.
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.
The VI has not made any recommendations as a result of its inspections of surveillance device records for the 1 January to 30 June 2021 reporting period.
Reviewed 29 March 2022