26 September 2023

Crime-fighting police given tougher powers

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Police are to be given stronger powers to investigate organised crime, seize ill-gotten gains and target cyber criminals under new laws.

Introducing the Major Crime and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2022, Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said the Bill would strengthen Victoria’s asset confiscation laws by giving authorities more power to investigate, seize proceeds of crime and disrupt organised crime on the black market.

“To help respond to the growing issue of cyber-crime, specialist Victoria Police staff will have more power to investigate online child grooming using assumed identities, under the supervision of a police officer,” Ms Symes said.

“The Bill will allow for intelligence officers to more easily acquire or use an assumed identity by removing the requirement for the Chief Commissioner of Police to be satisfied that it would be impossible or impracticable for a sworn officer to do so,” she said.

“Authorities will also have greater power to identify and seize digital assets, in response to the growing use of digital cryptocurrencies by organised crime.”

Ms Symes said the reforms would empower authorities to compel cryptocurrency platforms to hand over information about suspects, like banks are required to, and seize digital ‘wallets.

She said search powers would also be updated under the Bill to “reflect the realities of modern policing”.

The Attorney-General said this would improve police powers to obtain electronic data when executing search warrants, such as taking copies off computers and storage devices and allowing officers to bring specialist help or skills to execute a warrant (like a locksmith).

“More victims’ compensation will be able to be paid from forfeited property including by removing the requirement that compensation must relate to the same offence for which someone’s property was forfeited,” Ms Symes said.

“A conviction for possessing a traffickable quantity of firearms and other drug and sexual offences will also trigger the automatic forfeiture of assets.”

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