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 Strategic Priority 4 - Crime

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Pursue responses to serious and organised crime, and improve community safety

Our government is responsible for providing a safe and secure Australia for its people, economy, partners and neighbours. We develop laws, provide legal advice and work with other countries to combat crime, corruption and violence to keep Australia safe.

There is a high level of client satisfaction for work under this strategic priority. A range of stakeholders including Australian, state and territory governments, law enforcement agencies and overseas justice organisations provided feedback on our delivery of activities. In the 2017-18 survey, client satisfaction remained well above our targets.

Australia's regional and global position on criminal justice (Factor 8) in the World Justice Project's Rule of Law Index is used to benchmark our impact on the community. Factor 8 measures whether the criminal investigation, adjudication and correctional systems are effective and whether the system is impartial, free of corruption and improper influence, and protective of due process and the rights of the accused. Australia's ranking is 13 of 113 countries.

A range of functions transferred from the Attorney-General's portfolio to the Home Affairs portfolio as a result of machinery-of-government changes. The second phase of the machinery-of-government changes occurred on 10 May 2018 following the passage of the Home Affairs and Integrity Agencies Legislation Amendment Act 2017. ASIO and associated functions transferred from the Attorney-General's portfolio to the Home Affairs portfolio at that time. As a result, some activities in our 2017-21 Corporate Plan are not included here.

Stakeholder survey percentages (Table 8) for this strategic priority include results for functions that transferred to the Department of Home Affairs under the change to the Administrative Arrangements Order on 10 May 2017. The results for this function are consistent with the satisfaction ratings given for other areas that contribute to the delivery of this strategic priority.

Table 8: KPI performance statement for Strategic Priority 4: Crime
KPIs Performance criterion (a) Target Result
Effectiveness Stakeholder and client satisfaction with the department's effectiveness in maintaining the Commonwealth justice system and community safety 80% 95%
Efficiency in meeting goals Criminal justice policy advice, program work and legislative changes Work is completed on time, within budget and in compliance with relevant guidelines 93%
Professionalism, skills and commitment Stakeholder and client satisfaction with the professionalism, skills and commitment of our staff involved in maintaining the Commonwealth criminal justice system and community safety 80% 95%
Community impact Australia's regional and global position on criminal justice (Factor 8) in the World Justice Project's Rule of Law Index Position 10 or above 13
(a) Performance criteria as per Corporate Plan 2017–18, p. 13 and Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18, Program 1.2, p. 14.

The key activities under this strategic priority and a summary of relevant progress are provided in Table 9. Further information about progress of achievements follows in the Analysis section.

Table 9: Activity performance statement for Strategic Priority 4: Crime
Key activity Result
Develop and implement initiatives to respond to the evolving threat of serious and organised crime, including facilitating the use of criminal intelligence and information sharing ACHIEVED
Fraud Liaison Forum hosted
Counter-Fraud Community-of-Practice established
Criminal Code Amendment (Impersonating a Commonwealth Body) Bill 2017
Strengthening arrangements for domestic law enforcement agencies
Represent Australia in relevant international forums and work with regional partner countries to strengthen regional criminal laws – including people smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, counter-terrorism financing and transnational organised crime ACHIEVED
Phase 4 assessment by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Working Group on Bribery
Pacific Legal Policy Twinning Program and Legal Policy Champions Program
Anti-corruption in international fora
Implement the second cycle of the United Nations Convention against Corruption
Funding and assistance to Pacific Islands Law Officers Network
Participation in the Papua New Guinea Institutional Partnerships Program
Lead the development and coordination of policy concerning a national domestic violence order scheme TRANSFERRED to Department of Home Affairs
Deliver grants funding to local councils, schools and other community organisations to improve community safety and reduce crime TRANSFERRED to Department of Home Affairs
Develop and implement reforms in criminal law and transnational crime-related frameworks, including anti-corruption, money laundering, firearms, sex offenders and international crime cooperation TRANSFERRED
Policy for firearms, money laundering and sex offenders were transferred to Department of Home Affairs
National Firearms Amnesty
Crimes Legislation Amendment (International Crime Cooperation and Other Measures) Act 2018
Passports Legislation Amendment (Overseas Travel by Child Sex Offenders) Act 2017
Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill 2017
Crimes (Overseas) (Declared Foreign Countries) Amendment Regulations 2017
Extradition (El Salvador) Regulations 2017 and the Extradition Legislation Amendment (2017 Measures No. 1) Regulations 2017
Anti-corruption, fraud and foreign bribery and international crime cooperation policy development
Support partner agencies to develop and implement policy in the aviation and maritime sectors TRANSFERRED to Department of Home Affairs
Undertake extradition, mutual legal assistance, international prisoner transfers, federal offenders and firearms import casework ACHIEVED
Over 1400 casework matters completed


Responding to serious and organised crime

In 2017-18, we continued to strengthen arrangements for domestic law enforcement agencies, including collaborating with the Home Affairs portfolio to help combat serious and organised crime. We maintain strong international relations and participate in multiple fora to progress anti-corruption initiatives. We led Australia's engagement with anti-corruption forums established under the G20, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

In December 2017, the OECD Working Group on Bribery tabled its report on its Phase 4 review of Australia's performance under the Anti-Bribery Convention. The report commended the marked increase in Australia's enforcement of its foreign bribery laws and the substantial steps and reforms adopted by Australia in recent years.

We developed legislation for the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Combatting Corporate Crime) Bill 2017, which was introduced into Parliament in December 2017. The Bill amends existing foreign bribery offence and introduces a new offence that holds companies liable for failing to prevent foreign bribery by their associates.

Australia is undergoing a second cycle review under the United Nations Convention against Corruption related to asset recovery and corruption prevention. In April 2018, we hosted reviewing countries, Pakistan and Iceland, and representatives from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Their report is due later in 2018.

We continued activities to combat fraudulent behaviour and strengthen public confidence in Australian Government bodies. In November 2017, we hosted the Fraud Liaison Forum with over 350 people representing 70 Australian Government agencies. The forum allowed attendees to share information and discuss fraud issues. We also developed standardised fraud training to create future e-learning modules.

We assisted in establishing the Counter-Fraud Community-of-Practice to improve information sharing on fraud controls, risks and vulnerabilities.

In June 2018, the Criminal Code Amendment (Impersonating a Commonwealth Body) Bill 2017 was passed. The Bill introduced offences for anyone representing themselves to be or to act on behalf of or with authority of a Commonwealth entity or service.

During 2017-18, the Commonwealth Parole Office (responsible for making decisions on the parole of offenders convicted of Commonwealth offences) made:

  • 221 parole decisions
  • 5 decisions about early release on licence
  • 9 decisions about interstate transfer of federal prisoners
  • 12 decisions about overseas travel for parolees.

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Working regionally to strengthen criminal laws

Under the Pacific Police Development Program we work with regional partners to strengthen Pacific policing and criminal laws and improve their capacity to develop and implement laws and policies.

In 2017-18, we:

  • trained 243 Pacific officials in legal policy, law reform and other legal capabilities
  • assisted Pacific island countries with cybercrime legislative reforms, particularly with a view to their accession to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime ('the Budapest Convention')
  • completed an overview of child exploitation laws in the Pacific for the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police and the Pacific Islands Law Officers Network (PILON).

We also provided funding and technical assistance to the PILON secretariat (hosted by the Samoan Attorney-General's Office) to support its work on regional law and justice issues.

In 2017-18, we assisted PILON to develop the General Principles for Obtaining the Best Evidence from Vulnerable Witnesses to Sexual and Gender Based Violence Offences and Guiding Principles on Protecting Whistleblowers and Encouraging Protected Disclosures.

Addressing cybercrime is a priority for the Pacific region. We worked in partnership with the Tongan Attorney-General's Office to develop the Computer Crimes Bill and Computer Crimes (Consequential Amendments) Bill. We also assisted Tuvalu, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Samoa to analyse their cybercrime legislation against the Budapest Convention.

Additionally, we supported PILON to hold the Second Annual PILON Cybercrime Workshop focused on combatting Pacific online child abuse. Online child abuse is prevalent across the globe and requires a collaborative approach.

In 2017-18, we delivered the Pacific Legal Policy Twinning Program and Legal Policy Champions Program. These programs included participants from Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Tuvalu.

We continued to work closely with counterpart Papua New Guinea agencies on shared priorities and challenges under the aid-funded whole-of-government Institutional Partnerships Program. Supporting stable and prosperous regional partners, including Papua New Guinea, is a significant foreign policy objective.

We are working with the Papua New Guinea Department of Justice and Attorney General on projects including an institutional 'capacity diagnostic', extradition law reform, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation security legal framework and training government lawyers to manage complex commercial contracts and build skills in statutory interpretation and advocacy.

Reforming criminal law and transnational frameworks

The National Firearms Amnesty ran from 1 July – 30 September 2017. Our role was to oversee and fund the public information campaign and to chair and provide secretariat functions for the working group. By the end of the three-month period, 57,324 firearms had been surrendered nationally. This included almost 2500 fully-automatic and semi-automatic firearms.

We managed the passage of the Crimes Legislation Amendment (International Crime Cooperation and Other Measures) Act 2018. The Act strengthens Australia's criminal justice framework to ensure that law enforcement and justice agencies are equipped with the necessary powers.

Key amendments:

  • Enhance Australia's cooperation with the International Criminal Courts and international war crime tribunals.
  • Enhance Australia's anti-human trafficking and slavery regime and the protections afforded to vulnerable witnesses.
  • Strengthen Australia's capability to detect and address risks to national security in relation to large-scale events.
  • Enhance Australia's anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing framework.
  • Enhance the drug and alcohol testing arrangements of the Australian Federal Police.

In 2017-18, the Passports Legislation Amendment (Overseas Travel by Child Sex Offenders) Act 2017 was passed. The Act makes it a criminal offence for child sex offenders to travel, or attempt to travel, overseas without permission. Prior to this reform, registered child sex offenders were able to travel overseas undetected by authorities, including to countries where weaker laws allowed predators to commit crimes against children. In 2016, 800 registered child sex offenders travelled overseas and about 40 per cent did so without informing authorities.

In 2017-18,the Extradition (El Salvador) Regulations 2017 were made to modernise the extradition relationships between Australia and El Salvador.

The Extradition Legislation Amendment (2017 Measures No. 1) Regulations 2017 were also made. The Regulations ensure that Australia considers extradition requests from India under the bilateral treaty and that Australia continues to meet extradition obligations under other multilateral treaties.

The Crimes (Overseas) (Declared Foreign Countries) Amendment Regulations 2017 were also made during 2017-18. These Regulations extend Nauru's declaration under the Crimes (Overseas) Act 1964, which allows Australians working for the Commonwealth to be prosecuted for offences committed in Nauru under Australian law. This ensures that Australian personnel in Nauru are subject to a criminal jurisdiction in all appropriate circumstances.

We continue to adapt Australia's legal framework to protect the community from international crime, including progressing bilateral treaty-level agreements. In May 2018, Australia signed the international transfer of prisoners treaty with the United Arab Emirates. This treaty will allow people imprisoned in Australia or the United Arab Emirates to apply to serve the remainder of their sentences in their home country. The treaty creates benefits for Australia including improving prisoner prospects for rehabilitation, permitting effective monitoring and supervision of prisoners on release or parole and reducing the costs to Australia associated with the incarceration of foreign nationals.

In October 2017, extradition and mutual assistance treaties with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan were tabled in Parliament. The treaties with Jordan will establish practical arrangements for both countries to provide information and strengthen bilateral crime cooperation and law enforcement relationships.

The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill 2017 was passed by the House of Representatives and introduced into the Australian Senate. The Bill includes reforms to the Crimes Act 1914 and the Criminal Code to:

  • create new offences targeting use of technology in child sexual abuse
  • strengthen protections from child sex offenders
  • ensure sentencing of child sex offenders reflects their criminal behaviour
  • improve protections for vulnerable witnesses.

Delivering international crime cooperation casework

Our work strengthens international crime cooperation relationships. Australia is a party to 30 bilateral mutual assistance treaties and a number of multilateral treaties, such as the United Nations Convention against Corruption. In 2017-18, we completed 780 mutual assistance requests and 64 extradition requests.

Our work also promotes reintegration of prisoners convicted overseas. Australia has International Transfer of Prisoner arrangements with 65 countries under the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons and six bilateral treaties (Thailand, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and India). In 2017-18, we completed 30 international prisoner transfers.

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