During an interview on 3AW this morning, Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton called for more investigative powers. He wants the federal government to grant police greater access and ability to reveal information obtained through phone taps and other electronic surveillance. The current legislation limits the use of such criminal intelligence in order to prevent the abuse of such invasive technology. The Deputy Commissioner acknowledges that phone tapping is an “extreme type of investigative power.” Despite this he is “frustrated” that the police cannot divulge information that they have accidentally come across during the course of another investigation.
Criminals should be pursued to the full extent of the law. There is still a strong need to protect the privacy of innocent citizens though, and our phone records should be safe from prying eyes. Such surveillance is crucial for criminal investigations but must be monitored by the courts. Any surveillance should only be granted by a warrant, and only after the police have put a strong case.
UPDATE Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus should be commended for his response to this matter. Material should not be given to private organisations to enforce their own private rules.