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Strategic Priority 4

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STRATEGIC
PRIORITY
4
Pursuing national responses to serious and organised crime and improving community safety
 
KEY ACTIVITIES
  • Implementing a national plan to combat serious and organised crime in partnership with law enforcement agencies
  • Working with states and territories to implement a national domestic violence order scheme which would ensure victims remain registered if they move between Australian jurisdictions
  • Combatting illicit drugs through improved laws, including on new psychoactive substances and precursor chemicals, and supporting the National Ice Taskforce
  • Implementing firearms-related recommendations from the Martin Place Siege Joint Commonwealth—New South Wales review
  • Implementing anti-money-laundering and financial crime reforms based on statutory and other reviews to ensure Australia can prevent and combat money laundering and terrorist financing
  • Combatting cybercrime through our work with Commonwealth, state and territory law enforcement and justice agencies, as well as engaging internationally and regionally on cybercrime matters
  • Working with regional partner countries to strengthen regional criminal laws, including people-smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering and counter-terrorism financing.

PERFORMANCE MEASURES

RESULT

KPI 1: Our community impact
Measure: Australia’s regional and global position on criminal justice (Factor 8) of the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index measuring how the rule of law is experienced by the public of countries around the world
Australia is well-placed, with a ranking of 10th of 102 countries for criminal justice.
KPI 2: Our effectiveness in achieving objectives
Measure: Stakeholder and client satisfaction with our effectiveness in maintaining the Commonwealth criminal justice system and community safety
Stakeholder survey indicated 95% of respondents were satisfied.
KPI 3: Our efficiency in meeting goals
Measure: Total instances of criminal justice policy advice, programme work and legislative change that are on time, within budget or financial targets and meet requirements
Policy and programme work met requirements.
KPI 4: Our professionalism, skills and commitment
Measure: Stakeholder and client satisfaction with the professionalism, skills and commitment of our staff involved in maintaining the Commonwealth criminal justice system and community safety
Stakeholder survey indicated 95% of respondents were satisfied.

Analysis

The department provides national leadership in developing regulatory and operational responses to serious and organised crime. To be effective in this role we work closely with a range of stakeholders in government and law enforcement.

The quality of the department’s information and advice is critical to our stakeholders’ work. The high satisfaction rating on this aspect (95 per cent) in the stakeholder survey indicates good engagement with the national approach to programmes targeting organised and serious crime.

Fighting serious and organised crime

The department leads the Commonwealth’s approach to serious and organised crime, as articulated in the National Organised Crime Response Plan 2015–18.

As criminal threats increasingly exploit weaknesses across jurisdictional borders, the response plan emphasises a collaborative approach to tackling serious and organised crime, and ensures that national efforts are cooperative and adaptive. The department has worked closely with agencies across the Commonwealth, states and territories to implement law and law enforcement initiatives identified in the plan, including:

  • development of a Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) about controls on precursor chemicals and equipment that are used to make crystal methamphetamine and other illicit drugs
  • exploring a national cooperative scheme on unexplained wealth with the states and territories
  • considering initiatives to enhance information sharing between C ommonwealth agencies on the highest risk criminal targets and activities.

Information-sharing

The department undertook a number of projects to improve information-sharing arrangements across law enforcement agencies and across all levels of government. In particular, we supported the merger of CrimTrac and the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) to form the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) from 1 July 2016. The ACIC will better harness the agencies’ collective resources and boost our national response to transnational, serious and organised crime.

Proceeds of crime

The department supported the Minister for Justice to provide proceeds of crime funding to assist law enforcement efforts to tackle serious and organised crime. More than $28 million was allocated from the Commonwealth Confiscated Assets account, under section 298 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, for projects under the Organised Crime Strategic Framework in 2015–16. This whole-of-government framework recognises multi-agency and multi-jurisdictional taskforces are central to a coordinated national response to organised crime.

Initiatives funded in 2015–16 included:

  • the second phase of a waterfront taskforce in Victoria
  • establishing an anti-gangs strike team in South Australia
  • enhancing surveillance and analysis capabilities for Commonwealth law enforcement agencies
  • establishing a national wastewater analysis scheme to more accurately map drug prevalence across Australia. Both the Response Plan and the National Ice Action Strategy identify this capability as a key initiative to reduce the presence of methamphetamine (including ice) in the community.

Funding of $14.7 million was also provided for the Australian Federal Police to expand and enhance the foreign bribery investigative capability of the Fraud and Anti-Corruption Centre.

Forced marriage and human trafficking

The department continued to lead the Australian Government’s efforts to prevent and address forced marriage under the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015–19.

We funded initiatives that enabled support for people in, or at risk of, forced marriage. This included Anti-Slavery Australia’s My Blue Sky, an online national referral mechanism, helpline and confidential legal advice service launched by the Minister for Justice in November 2015. We also strengthened Australia’s legislative response to forced marriage by expanding the definition of forced marriage and increasing the associated penalties in the Criminal Code in November 2015.

Implementing a national domestic violence order scheme

During 2015–16, COAG endorsed the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme and commenced implementation. The scheme will ensure that Domestic Violence Orders (DVOs) issued in one Australian jurisdiction are automatically recognised and enforceable in all others.

As part of this, we also supported the development of model laws to enable the automatic national recognition of DVOs, and an information-sharing system to support enforcement of DVOs across jurisdictions. New South Wales became the first jurisdiction to pass the model laws in April 2016. The Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania have also introduced model laws into their Parliaments, and initial project milestones on the information sharing system were met.

Combatting illicit drugs

The department implemented policies and legislative changes to support law enforcement efforts on illicit drugs, especially ice and new psychoactive substances (NPS).

National Ice Action Strategy

The department supported the National Ice Taskforce to develop a more comprehensive and coordinated response to the ice problem, at all levels of government and across health, education and law enforcement sectors. In December 2015, COAG approved the National Ice Action Strategy, which was based on the taskforce’s recommendations.

Under the strategy, the department has worked closely with its portfolio agencies to implement law and law enforcement initiatives to reduce the supply of ice.

Amendments to drug and precursor offences

The department developed legislative amendments to ensure that serious drug and precursor offences in the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 operate effectively and without unnecessary technicalities. They included:

  • amendments contained in the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Powers, Offences and Other Measures) Act 2015, that commenced on 27 November 2015. These addressed a number of difficulties that the Australian Federal Police and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions identified in prosecuting people involved in the importation of illicit drugs and
    precursor chemicals.
  • amendments contained in the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Proceeds of Crime and Other Measures) Act 2015, that commenced on 1 March 2016. These removed ambiguities from the definitions of ‘drug analogue’ and ‘manufacture’ and support our law enforcement and prosecution agencies’ ability to disrupt the illicit drug trade.
  • the Criminal Code Amendment (Psychoactive Substances) Regulations 2015, that commenced in December 2015. These allow the importation of NPS for the purposes of forensic analysis, law enforcement and medical or scientific research. The importation of NPS is prohibited under a ban introduced by the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Psychoactive Substances and Other Measures) Act 2015.

Firearms-related reforms

The department is implementing firearms-related recommendations from the Martin Place Siege Joint Commonwealth–New South Wales review.

In particular, as Chair of the National Firearms and Weapons Policy Working Group, the department has worked with state and territory governments to review the National Firearms Agreement and develop a range of measures to deal with illegal firearms. The department also led consultations with the firearms community (industry, recreational groups and licensed shooters) and community safety organisations on these reforms.

Anti-money-laundering and financial crime

Along with representatives from the states and territories and other Commonwealth bodies, the department worked on options for a national cooperative scheme on unexplained wealth which will undermine the profit motives of serious and organised criminals.

The department, in partnership with AUSTRAC, reviewed the operation of the anti-moneylaundering and counter-terrorism financing regime and whether its policy objectives remained appropriate. The review involved extensive consultation with government agencies and industry groups. A report was prepared with 84 recommendations to strengthen, simplify and modernise the existing regime by improving the detection and disruption of terrorism financing and global money-laundering networks, and reducing unnecessary regulatory burden. On 29 April 2016, the Report on the statutory review of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 and associated rules and regulations was tabled in Parliament.

The department also led the development of a public consultation paper on a possible Australian scheme for deferred prosecution agreements, which may facilitate a more effective and efficient response to corporate crime by encouraging greater self-reporting by companies. The Minister for Justice released the discussion paper at the OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Anti-Bribery Convention in Paris on 16 March 2016. Submissions closed 2 May 2016.

Combatting cybercrime

The department hosted the National Cybercrime Working Group with state and territory justice agencies and police in October 2015. The department also engaged with international counterparts in the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime plenary meeting held in France during May 2016.

The department has been involved in capacity-building initiatives on cybercrime in the Pacific region. This included delivering bilateral assistance to strengthen cybercrime laws, as well as regional training workshops for Pacific island law and justice officials on key aspects of cybercrime legislation, investigation and prosecution, as well as international cooperation.

International arrangements

The department is engaged in a wide range of cooperative activities with foreign countries. In particular, over the past year the Government processed 687 mutual assistance requests, 33 extradition requests and received 49 applications for international prisoner transfers (31 for transfer from Australia and 18 for transfer to Australia).

The department also continued to work with regional partner countries to strengthen their criminal laws, including combating people smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering and counter-terrorism financing.

Southeast Asia

Through the Enhancing the Regional Response to Migration programme, the department trained and mentored approximately 440 law and justice officials across the region, working bilaterally with Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Vietnam, and multilaterally, through forums such as the Bali Process, to help countries establish strong laws to combat people smuggling, human trafficking and related transnational organised crime, including the ability to follow illicit money trails.

We also provided direct peer-to-peer assistance to law and justice officials in partner countries to promote the effective application of these laws.

In Indonesia, the department worked with law and justice partners to strengthen legal frameworks to counter terrorism and combat transnational crime. Activities in 2015–16 included hosting a Women in Law Enforcement Conference for 45 law and justice officials focused on promoting leadership and collaboration, as well as a series of workshops delivered jointly with the Australian Federal Police, for more than 25 police and prosecutors.

Pacific

Under the Pacific Police Development Program, the department delivered training and mentoring to 280 Pacific island law and justice officials, working with partner countries to strengthen the development and implementation of regional criminal laws, including in the priority areas of sexual and gender-based violence and cybercrime.

Additionally, the department supported the development of modern and effective crime and policing laws to improve community safety in Pacific island countries – for example, Nauru’s recently enacted Crimes Act 2016.

The department developed the Pacific Forensic Model Provisions for the collection and use of forensic evidence, on behalf of the Pacific Island Chiefs of Police. The Model Provisions will be used as a guide to forensic law reform in the Pacific.

The second Pacific Policy Champions Course was delivered, as well as the Pacific Legal Policy Twinning Program.

In conjunction with AUSTRAC, the department continued to assist Papua New Guinea to develop a suite of legislation and strengthen the national coordination and operational effectiveness of its anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorism financing framework as required to meet Financial Action Task Force standards. Papua New Guinea’s Parliament passed the suite of legislation in July 2015 and it came into force in February 2016.

The department also continued to provide capacity-building support to Papua New Guinea justice institutions under the aid-funded Strongim Gavman Program. As a result of the Papua New Guinea Government decisions, the number of department advisers working in Papua New Guinea reduced at the end of 2015, however five positions continue in the Office of the Public Prosecutor, supporting prosecutions in important areas including family and sexual violence and corruption.

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