1.4 Enabling our Police to Better Deal with 21st Century Crimes

Crime in Victoria is becoming increasingly complex and sophisticated. Our police must evolve to be in a better position to investigate and combat such crimes.

While new types of crime have emerged, types of offending that are under-policed such as white-collar crimes, child exploitation and cyber-crime also remains an issue. Further, there remains hundreds of outstanding cold case/missing persons files that remain uninvestigated, due to inadequate resourcing levels within Crime Command.

TPAV is of the strong view that Victoria Police’s Crime Command is currently under-resourced to the point where it is impacting its ability to effectively deal with these categories of crime.

Offending by criminal networks requires significant real-time data analysis to support investigative responses. This is an area of limited capacity within Crime Command that should be bolstered to meet growing demand. Victoria currently has approximately 500 fewer crime squad investigators than its equivalent department in NSW.

Additionally, TPAV advocates bringing in laws that enable the State to recoup unexplained wealth from criminals. Organised crime syndicates amass vast assets as a result of sophisticated criminal activity such as high-level drug trafficking. Courts should have the ability to confiscate unexplained wealth/proceeds of crime on the basis of reasonable suspicion that the assets are linked to criminal activity. This should create a reverse onus on the holder of assets to disprove the reasonable suspicions held by police that their wealth has not been acquired legitimately.

Criminals do not respect state borders. This is why the Commonwealth, States and Territories need to work together to ensure jurisdictional differences don’t inadvertently create safe havens for criminals or organised crime syndicates. Currently unexplained wealth provisions operate in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Tasmania.

Laws of this nature need to be harmonised nationally across jurisdictions for maximum effect. A national approach to this issue would also enhance state and territory information gathering powers, information sharing, and operational coordination and would introduce a new mechanism for equitable sharing of proceeds from joint confiscation action.

Seized assets should be returned to crime fighting initiatives to enable police to better prevent and target the criminal syndicates and the individuals behind them and to care for victims of crime impacted by its harm.

Recommendations:

  • We need new laws to deal with unexplained wealth where there is reasonable suspicion that such wealth has been acquired from criminal activity. Victoria should follow the lead of other Australian jurisdictions where such laws have been introduced, including the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Tasmania.
  • We require legislative reform that directs proceeds of crime and unexplained wealth back into crime-fighting initiatives, as well as towards restorative justice programs that ensure victims of crime are better looked after.
  • We need new laws to deal with unexplained wealth where there is reasonable suspicion that such wealth has been acquired from criminal activity. Victoria should follow the lead of other Australian jurisdictions where such laws have been introduced, including the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Tasmania.
  • We require legislative reform that directs proceeds of crime and unexplained wealth back into crime-fighting initiatives, as well as towards restorative justice programs that ensure victims of crime are better looked after.
  • Victoria Police needs more detectives working in Homicide and Missing Persons cold case units and intelligence.