Independent review into surveillance devices underway

Former Commonwealth and Tasmanian Director of Public Prosecutions Mr Damian Bugg AM KC has been appointed to undertake the independent review into surveillance devices, which is now underway.

Police Commissioner Donna Adams said today that a new reviewer for the process had been appointed due to the unavailability of the previous reviewer within the required timeframes.

“The Terms of Reference for the independent review and the reviewer were announced late last year. However, legislative changes through State Parliament were necessary to enable the legal release of information required as part of the investigation,” she said.

“This legislation has now been passed, however some further amendments were required to the Terms of Reference due to the changed starting date and unavailability of the previous reviewer.

“Mr Bugg KC has contributed to and been involved in a number of professional organisations including a term as President of the Tasmanian Bar Association, 6 years as President of the Canadian based International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law and 9 years on the Council of the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration.

“Following the 2013 Tasmanian bushfires, Mr Bugg was appointed chairman of the Tasmanian Bushfire Recovery Taskforce and he has provided advice on and reviewed a number of matters and processes including his review of the Public Trustee, which he undertook in 2021.

Commissioner Adams said that following a determination by the Supreme Court that material obtained from one surveillance operation could not be admitted into evidence, Tasmania Police undertook an immediate internal review of procedures to ensure there was clear guidance and oversight for police officers in relation to the obtaining of surveillance device warrants and the execution of warrants.

“This has been completed with new procedures implemented,” Commissioner Adams said.

“Tasmania Police also committed to a number of actions to ensure that surveillance devices used in prisons, as part of investigations, fully meet all legal requirements to enable information obtained from to be used in the courts.

“This review provides us with an additional opportunity to ensure we have the best processes in place to guide our officers when seeking warrants for the use of surveillance devices as part of their investigations.

“We welcome the independent examination of this matter and the opportunity to ensure the transparency and accountability of our organisation.”

The review will be tabled in Parliament in early 2024.