Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The day before the Melbourne Cup?

The  Federal Attorney General presented the Surveillance Devices Act Report the day before the Melbourne Cup, detailing reported surveillance costs and figures for the last year, and this analysis highlights some unusual upward trends. 
In NT - the number of devices used 2010-2011 has rocketed to about 6.5 times that of the year before, and perhaps this may have been what the NT Police Minister had in mind when John McRoberts was appointed the Commissioner for NT Police, with his background in surveillance.  As NT media are a bit isolated from the trends of the Australian mainstream, it is hard to tell if the hike is an indication that the surveillance was long overdue, or if the surveillance is simply to establish if there is actually crime up there in the Territory to detect.
However, one interesting facet of the reported information from police is the cost per unit of an intercept (and use), which in WA, Victoria and NT is over four times that of NSW. Outsourcing, anyone?  Also, in NSW, reported warrant figures are dropping, as are applications.

Total intercept related arrests were 2441 for 3155 prosecutions and that resulted in 2022 convictions.  1531 were supposed to be for serious drug offences, and then 1046 resulted in convictions for serious drug offences and  so, about a third(485 according to the Surveillance Devices Act Report) of those intercept-related drug prosecutions failed.

Of the 91 arrests that stemmed from retreived stored email and phone communications about a third resulted in convictions.
There seems to be some problems in the annual report with the continuity of the figures relating to the total of failed convictions compared to prosecutions. The Federal AG reported as a 22% increase in prosecutions.  The over-all drug prosecution to drug conviction rate, seems to suffer an attrition of about 30%.

The AG also reported that most warrants last for two months, no warrant applications by police were refused, and total warrant use has doubled, and, in some states - like WA and NT, the frequency or use of surveillance is disproportionate, as is the expense.