This report presents the results of an inspection conducted by the Victorian Inspectorate (‘the VI’) of Victoria Police records under the Terrorism (Community Protection) Act 2003 (‘the TCPA’).
It acquits the VI’s obligation under section 37D of the TCPA to make a report on the results of its inspection to determine the extent of compliance achieved by Victoria Police and its law enforcement officers with Parts 2, 2AA and 3A of the TCPA.
Under the TCPA, members of Victoria Police can:
- conduct covert searches of premises under the authority of a warrant [Part 2];
- detain and question people, including children, without charge [Part 2AA]; and
- use special police powers, under the authority of a Supreme Court order or, in certain circumstances, under an interim authorisation [Part 3A].
These powers were given to Victoria Police to assist them to prevent, or respond to, a terrorist act or the threat of a terrorist act.
The VI provides independent oversight of these powers by conducting six-monthly inspections (where operational records are available) and reporting to Parliament as well as the Minister (Attorney General).
At these inspections, in addition to assessing Victoria Police’s compliance with Parts 2, 2AA and 3A of the TCPA, the VI also assesses Victoria Police’s processes to support compliance in its use of these powers – for example, the development of procedures, training for relevant officers and stakeholder engagement. We also comment on Victoria Police’s transparency and cooperativeness in its interactions with the VI.
To inspect records associated with Victoria Police’s use of powers under the TCPA, as well as its processes to support compliance with the requirements of the TCPA, the VI engages with the Counter-Terrorism Legal Unit (‘the CTLU’) of Victoria Police. We note in this report the CTLU officers’ cooperative and transparent engagement with the VI, including in relation to our requests for information subsequent to the inspection conducted in February 2021.
However, the VI also reports on four compliance issues found during its inspection of records associated with the execution of three covert search warrants and the application for, and reporting on, one covert search warrant.
The VI has made four findings of non-compliance in this report. Five recommendations have been made as a result of our inspection of TCPA records.
Human Rights Considerations
The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (‘the Victorian Charter’) requires Victoria Police to consider the human rights of individuals when it exercises its powers. The powers given to Victoria Police under Parts 2, 2AA and 3A of the TCPA engage several of the human rights protected by the Victorian Charter, including:
- the right to liberty and security, and the right not to be subject to arbitrary detention;
- the right to humane treatment when deprived of liberty;
- rights of children in the criminal process; and
- the right not to have one’s privacy, family, home or correspondence unlawfully or arbitrarily interfered with.
The VI’s role in assessing Victoria Police’s compliance with the requirements of these Parts of the TCPA contributes to the protection of the human rights of adults and children in Victoria.