Bugg Independent Review into Surveillance Devices in Prisons released

Tasmania Police has today released the Bugg Independent Review of the Use of Surveillance Devices in Prisons.

Commissioner Donna Adams welcomed the independent review, and thanked Mr Bugg AM KC for the extensive and comprehensive process undertaken, which included engagement with a number of key stakeholders.

Mr Damian Bugg AM KC determined that:

  • Only minor administrative issues were identified in the process of Tasmania Police applying for warrants.
  • Legal professional privilege was not compromised. Mr Bugg AM KC was satisfied that Tasmania Police did not monitor or download privileged conversations between lawyers and clients which were irrelevant to the particular investigation for which there was a warrant. The surveillance devices were ‘wiped’ clean when they were retrieved from the prison, without play back.
  • Tasmania Police had taken steps immediately following Justice Brett’s decision to implement a suite of reforms, which were either implemented or underway.

Commissioner Adams said that the Review examined 19 surveillance device warrants which were issued for use in a Tasmanian prison between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2024.

Mr Bugg AM KC found that 4 of the 19 warrants were technically invalid due to the same administrative error. Put simply, the wrong section number was recorded.

“Mr Bugg AM KC identified there were opportunities for improved compliance in relation to the Ombudsman’s function. As a result, Tasmania Police conducted an internal audit of a further 40 warrants. The audit, which was overseen by Mr Bugg AM KC, was conducted for the purpose of developing a training model for Tasmania Police officers,” Commissioner Adams said.

“It’s pleasing to note that Mr Bugg AM KC determined that the internal audit was more detailed than a compliance inspection under the Act and will provide a solid basis for a refreshed training model.”

Commissioner Adams said that immediately following Justice Brett’s 2022 decision, Tasmania Police took steps to ensure there was clearer guidance and oversight for police officers in relation to obtaining surveillance device warrants and how those warrants are executed.

“Tasmania Police committed to numerous actions to ensure that our officers comply strictly with the law. As part of this commitment, new internal procedures have been implemented for obtaining surveillance device warrants. In response to some of Justice Brett’s observations, there has also been a review of the paperwork associated with obtaining warrants,” Commissioner Adams said.

“Mr Bugg’s AM KC 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.

“A specialised training package is being developed and will be included on all investigative training courses from June 2024. Additional training will also be provided to all current detectives to ensure legislative compliance.

“In addition to the new training, we have developed a Covert Powers Committee to oversee and provide guidance to detectives in maintaining compliance with investigative and legislative obligations. This committee is led by the Assistant Commissioner Specialist Support and includes Legal Services.”

Commissioner Adams said that Tasmania Police is committed to delivering a service in line with its Values of Accountability, Integrity, Respect and Support.

“The recent Tasmania Police Community Survey results told us we need be more accountable – and we are responding to feedback,” Commissioner Adams said.

Tasmania Police has also recently publicly released:

  • The Tasmania Police Community Survey results
  • The new Tasmania Police Reporting Dashboard

    o The dashboard provides transparency with crime, road safety and other statistics available to the public; and

  • The interim report of the Weiss Independent Review into former police officer Paul Reynolds. The full review will also be publicly released.

The independent review report, including 11 recommendations, can be accessed here: https://www.police.tas.gov.au/information-disclosure/review-of-the-use-of-surveillance-devices-in-prisons/

/Public Release. View in full here.