Undercover policing: detection or deception?

Bronitt, Simon and Kinley, David (1995). Undercover policing: detection or deception?. In Hugh Selby (Ed.), Tomorrow's Law (pp. 1-23) Annandale, NSW, Australia: The Federation Press.

Author Bronitt, Simon
Kinley, David
Title of chapter Undercover policing: detection or deception?
Title of book Tomorrow's Law
Place of Publication Annandale, NSW, Australia
Publisher The Federation Press
Publication Year 1995
Sub-type Research book chapter (original research)
Open Access Status
ISBN 1862871965
Editor Hugh Selby
Start page 1
End page 23
Total pages 23
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
A tale of telephone tapping: Illegal phone-tapping in New South Wales comprises but one chapter of a larger story of police involvement in criminal activity in Australia. In this country, interception of telecommunications, or phone-tapping, without a warrant obtained from a judge of the Federal Court is a criminal offence. The problem of illegal phone-tapping by the police came to light in Australia in the mid-1980s. In 1986, a Royal Commission inquiry was conducted by Mr Justice Stewart into allegations of illegal phone-tapping by members of the New South Wales police (see Royal Commission of Inquiry into Alleged Telephone Interceptions). From the evidence submitted to the Royal Commission, it appears that between 1968 and 1984 the New South Wales police conducted at least 200 illegal telephone interceptions.

The Royal Commission Report revealed not only the scale of this operation, but also that these illegal activities were sanctioned, if not instigated, by senior police officers. This illegal surveillance could not be traced to maverick police officers engaged in "one off" illegal bugging or wiretapping in order to gather criminal intelligence, but rather to a special unit of technical experts which engaged in systematic surveillance of suspects and their associates.

Why did the police undertake these surveillance operations which were clearly illegal? Part of the answer undoubtedly relates to the exigencies and pressures facing police officers involved in the investigation of serious crime. The performance and success of policing generally, and of officers individually, is measured not by the level of crime within a community, but on the number of crimes "cleared up" and /or convictions secured...

The basic question raised in this essay concerns how the criminal justice system responds and should respond to unlawful or improper law enforcement activity. To explore this question we have specifically focused on police surveillance and undercover operations. We have outlined the scope of controls that are currently used, or are available to be used, to prevent and punish police impropriety. At the forefront of preventive mechanisms, we, as citizens, must be prepared to exercise our legal rights to both property and privacy...

Q-Index Code B1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Book Chapter
Collection: TC Beirne School of Law Publications
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Created: Thu, 17 Jul 2014, 14:38:32 EST by Carmen Buttery on behalf of T.C. Beirne School of Law