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Courts approve all police warrant applications for use of surveillance devices during 2019/20

Queensland’s surveillance device laws permitted courts to grant all 56 requests by police for warrants approving the use of devices during on-going criminal investigations and resulted in the arrest of 53 alleged offenders in the last reportable year.

The Queensland Police Service’s Surveillance Device Warrants Annual Report 2019/20, tabled in Parliament this week, said courts approved a total of 56 warrants including for the use of listening, optical, tracking and a combination of devices.

Under Queensland’s Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 courts can issues surveillance device warrants to install, use and remove devices during a specified period.

The report says courts authorised the use of 36 tracking, 28 listening and seven “optical’’ devices and that on nine occasions a combination of devices were used.

“Of the 36 surveillance device warrants authorising the use of tracking devices, 13 applications were made to a Magistrate,’’ the report says.

“A Magistrate is only permitted to issue a surveillance device warrant which authorises the installation of a tracking device without covert entry to a building.’’

“The remainder of the … device warrants were issued by a Supreme Court judge.’’

The report reveals 12 applications were also approved for variations or extensions of warrants and that 53 arrests were made as a result of surveillance device usage.

“The number of arrests made by law enforcement officers during the year based entirely or partially upon information obtained from a surveillance device (was) 53,’’ the report says.

“(However) the use of a surveillance device in one financial year may not result in the arrest of an offender until a subsequent financial year.

“(For example) many of the investigations in which… devices were used in 2018/19 financial year were still ongoing at the time of preparing this report’’

Read the full report here: https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/tableOffice/TabledPapers/2020/5720T431.pdf

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