NSW plods’ bugs jump
‘First state’ first in interception
The Attorney-General’s Department has reported increases in the use of listening devices and telecommunications interception warrants in the year to June 2011, with NSW leading the way, according to reports tabled in parliament.
The department’s surveillance and telecommunications interception reports show that NSW Police is the leading agency in the country when it comes to bugging its citizens. During 2010-2011, NSW Police requested 1,282 interception warrants, up from just 838 in 2008-2009, and only three were refused or withdrawn.
This compares to the Australian Federal Police’s request rate of just 523 interception warrants, which has fallen since its 2009-2010 peak of 642 requests.
The interception report also reveals that the vast majority of interception warrants covers more than one service – 416 of them sought interception of between two and five services.
The Australian Federal Police, however, is the leader in requesting surveillance warrants, with 406 issued in 2010-2011. Most of these were “composite” warrants, meaning they may have listening, data surveillance and data retrieval in addition to merely staking out a target.
While 77 arrests were made consequent to the use of surveillance warrants in 2010-2011, they resulted in only 15 convictions nationwide. Interception, it seems, is somewhat more effective, with the A-G claiming more than 2,400 arrests and 2,022 convictions.
One aspect of the regime that could help explain the growth in interception is that during 2010, insider trading was added to the list of investigations for which police and other agencies can request interception warrants. ®
Optimal allocation of resources for transparent reasons
"While 77 arrests were made consequent to the use of surveillance warrants in 2010-2011, they resulted in only 15 convictions nationwide."
And one of them was a GBH conviction after a pub fight between a couple of young guys. Seems unusual that cops would use intercepts for a pub fight? Helps if the victim's mum is a Senior Prosecutor hassling the investigating officers.
Little bit of insider info
In my line of work I've probably seen hundreds of NSW/AFP interception warrants for the period 2007 to 2010. Boy do I hate checking warrants!
A real difficulty is they way the Telecommunications Interception act has been changed progressively, so in each case I have to figure out what the appropriate law was at time.
At one stage in 2007 the cops were obliged to get a warrant for any intercept, except, that they could just ask the Telcos for the information anyway without warrant. Section 177 amendment at the end of 2007 means that now Telcos can give any information to the cops without warrant, but not if the cops ask for it (amazing but true)
I've seen plenty of Telecommunications Intercept warrants (record voice and metadata). Surveillance warrants (follow, video and bug the suspects), Stored communications warrants (harvest the switches for SMS & metadata post-facto). What I haven't seen yet is data interception warrants.
I actually think data interception should be used more often. The Police cases I see are easily attacked because of a lack of belts & braces approach to raids. (And I work for the bad guys..)