26 September 2023

Clampdown on social media crime

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New legislation is set to strengthen the laws that apply to the use of new technologies by offenders and will give police powers to search suspected perpetrators of domestic violence offences.

Amendments to the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act specifically target child sex offenders and other criminal elements who use social media accounts to conceal evidence of their crimes.

Minister for Police, Mark Ryan said criminal elements were using Facebook and Instagram to hide evidence of a range of illegal activities including child abuse, sexual assault, drug trafficking, homicide, terrorism and cybercrime.

“The amendments make it clear that law enforcement can lawfully obtain any information accessible on, or via, a storage device,” Mr Ryan said.

“The new powers will greatly assist investigators like members of the world-renowned Taskforce Argos who hunt down child sex offenders.”

He said the new laws were needed to meet new challenges facing law enforcement.

“Police will now have the tools to help them keep the community safe, especially vulnerable children. With these stronger laws, police will keep the pressure on these criminals,” Mr Ryan said.

“On another front, the new laws have extended the power of police to search perpetrators under the Domestic Violence and Family Protection Act.”

He said this new power enabled police to search a person for potentially dangerous items, prior to transporting them, in cases where police believed the individuals involved in a domestic violence situation needed to be separated.

“This minimises the element of risk for all concerned, including police,” Mr Ryan said.

He said the legislation would also make a number of “sensible” amendments to the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act, and Weapons Act.

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