The NSW Government is pushing ahead with the state’s toughest ever organised crime reforms, with world-leading legislation introduced into Parliament today.
The reforms will give police new powers to target key enablers of organised crime including dedicated encrypted devices and money laundering, and are part one of a comprehensive package of reforms. A second Bill, to be introduced next month, will target the outcomes of their illicit activities, including a crackdown on unexplained wealth.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Police Paul Toole said the landmark reforms would put police in the strongest position to strike at the very heart of how organised criminals communicate.
“We know that criminal gangs are increasingly using dedicated encrypted devices to plan and conduct criminal activity and they do it to avoid detection from law enforcement,” Mr Toole said.
“These devices aren’t being used to peddle stolen push bikes, they’re being used by hardened criminals to orchestrate serious crimes including drug and firearms smuggling, money laundering and even murder.
“Our reforms will make it illegal to possess a dedicated encrypted criminal communication device – and give Police new search powers to target high risk individuals who are likely to use these devices to avoid law enforcement.”
Mr Toole said the reforms would also include new money laundering offences for those dealing in the proceeds of crime.
“Money laundering is not a victimless crime – it is the lifeblood of organised crime. These offences will help police crackdown on professional operatives who try and stay at arm’s length from the direct criminal activities of organised crime groups and turn a blind eye to the criminal source of funds they deal in.”
Today’s reforms will see the introduction of:
• A new offence that prohibits the possession of a dedicated encrypted criminal communication device (DECCD);
• New powers to enable police to direct a person to provide access to a digital device, which is akin to gaining the keys to a safe
• New money laundering offences for those dealing with and caught trying to disguise the proceeds of general crime
• Tougher penalties that target professional enablers of money laundering and offences committed in connection with serious crime or terrorism.
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said one of the key priorities of the Police Force was to remove the motivations, incentives and enablers of organised criminal networks.
“Organised crime groups are using technology to facilitate and undertake a wide range of serious crimes,” Commissioner Webb said.
“While a dedicated encrypted criminal communication device may look like a standard phone, it has been deliberately modified or equipped with high level features to avoid detection from law enforcement and often has standard functions such as voice calls deactivated.
“Until now, the suite of options available to us for the lawful surveillance and interception of data have not been as effective as we need them to be.
“Through these new laws, we intend to use every power possible to infiltrate these criminal networks and fully investigate those suspected of serious crimes to put them before the courts and keep the community safe.”