An audit of the use of statutory powers by the Australian Federal Police urged the Commonwealth force to improve its poor record keeping, which threatened its ability to do its job within the law.
The Australian National Audit Office wanted to assess AFP’s effectiveness in exercising its powers under applicable law, including warrants, and whether officers knew enough about their powers and how to use them.
The audit examined AFP’s internal reports on all significant uses of statutory powers, and a random selection of mandates under the 1914 Crimes Act, Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979, and the Supervisory Devices Act 2004.
But during its investigations, it became evident that there were serious shortcomings in AFP’s record-keeping practices and processes, especially its digital records, so the ANAO broadened the scope of the audit.
He found that six of the 272 warrants in Section 3E of the Crimes Act did not meet the requirements of the Crime Act, and 149 of the 272 (more than half) of the warrants in Section 3E of the Crimes Act. the crimes examined had not been prepared in accordance with AFP best practices.
The ANAO found that AFP’s compliance with internal administrative requirements was inconsistent, with weaknesses identified in the documentation of mandatory 3E Crimes Act warrant reviews, and warrants and their associated documents being uploaded to the PROMIS case management system.
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While it found that AFP has a largely effective accountability and reporting framework for the lawful exercise of its powers and that it meets statutory reporting requirements under the three key laws reviewed, the storage of internal files relating to the execution of the warrants of Section 3E of the Crimes Act meant that they could not be retrieved efficiently or with certainty if they are complete.
This suggests that there are weaknesses in AFP’s processes to monitor the risk of officers failing to comply with the law during operations.
An examination of the warrants showed that 26.3% of the warrants issued were not registered in PROMIS and that the assigned keywords were often incorrect or misleading.
“It is of concern to the ANAO that AFP does not accurately record the number of warrants for arrest under Article 3E of the law on crimes it has issued or that it has executed,” said the audit.
ANAO’s work was complicated by AFP’s poor digital record keeping, largely because AFP does not have an Electronic Data and Records Management System (EDRMS) but does have digital records. in approximately 700 trading systems.
The audit recommended that AFP urgently implement an EDRMS to allow it to store recordings so that they are secure and accessible, and do not rely on network drives.
He further recommended that AFP enforce its requirement that warrants in Section 3E of the Crimes Act be carefully reviewed by at least one supervisor and that they retain documentary evidence that the review has taken place, and that it implement a systematic quality assurance process for its request for a Section 3E mandate of the Crimes Act. , execution and documentation.
AFP accepted all the recommendations.