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Australian targeted surveillance convictions ‘appallingly low’

February 13, 2009

If mass surveillance (through CCTV and huge databases) is often ineffective, then surely targeted surveillance, through judicially-approved orders warranting the use of high-tech secret cameras, listening devices and tracking, must at least ‘work’. However, The Canberra Times reports that in Australia at least, this does not appear to be the case.

In fact out of 311 such warrants issued in 2007-8, just 86 individuals were prosecuted and only 10 criminal convictions resulted. Now we don’t know exactly why this was in each case, however it does suggest that Bill Rowlings, the Civil Liberties Australia chief executive is right to describe the conviction rates as “appallingly low” indicting that the many if the warrants for targeted surveillance are “fishing expeditions” by the police, rather than backed by serious evidence.

It would be interesting to see how the Australian figures compare to those available for similar countries, particularly the UK (if indeed the figures are available and comparable).

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