17 Sep 2008

Police search, surveillance powers to be boosted

7:17 pm on 17 September 2008

Police search and surveillance powers are to be broadened under legislation introduced to Parliament.

Police Minister Annette King says it is part of the Government's approach to tackling gangs.

The legislation includes more explicit powers to search computers and seize electronic devices and a reform of the police's use of surveillance devices.

It will also allow police to remotely access computer data in certain circumstances.

Ms King says it would allow police powers to keep pace with technology and give them additional tools to fight organised crime groups.

However, she says there are safeguards on use of the powers to ensure civil liberties are protected.

But the Council for Civil Liberties says elements of the bill could threaten human rights.

Chairman Michael Bott says allowing police to obtain oral search warrants in urgent circumstances is dangerous because there is no written record of what is actually sought.

Mr Bott says the bill is proof that in an election year sensible debate gets pushed out of the way in favour of a redneck rush for the law and order vote.

Police have also announced the Organised and Financial Crime Agency will get 35 more staff, taking the total number to 58.