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Media Release - Covert Search Warrants and Preventative Detention Orders

Law Enforcement Conduct Commission scrutinises police use of counter-terrorism powers

The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission has found the NSW Police Force used special counter-terrorism powers for the first time since 2006, in a report released on 1 July 2022.  

The Commission’s first review reveals police executed four covert search warrants to stop terrorist acts from being committed.  

The Commission found police did not comply with legal requirements when using the covert search powers. The Commission revealed errors in the policies and forms that help guide police in the lawful use of the powers.  

The Chief Commissioner of the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission, the Honourable R O Blanch AM, QC noted ‘the emergence of new compliance issues reinforces the utility and importance of the Commission’s ongoing scrutiny function under the TPP Act.’

The Chief Commissioner praised the NSW Police Force for its mature relationship with the Commission and noted that police ‘worked productively with the Commission to address issues regarding the use of the covert search powers.’

The NSW Police Force used the preventative detention powers once, in 2014.

The Commission has noted new investigative detention powers introduced in 2016 made the preventative detention powers redundant.

The Commission found the NSW Police Force has wrong and outdated guidelines for the use of the preventative detention powers. The NSWPF have had those powers for over 15 years.

The review found the NSW Police Force’s deficient guidelines were likely to lead police officers combatting terrorism to make unintended mistakes.

The Commission recommends lawmakers remove the preventative detention powers.

The Commission is required to prepare a report for the Attorney General on the police use of the covert search warrants and preventative detention orders every three years. The Commission’s report Covert Search Warrants & Preventative Detention Orders: Review under the Terrorism (Police Powers) Act 2002 (NSW) January 2017-June 2020 and fact sheet can be accessed on the Commission’s website here.  

For media enquiries please contact 0425 317 535 or email media@lecc.nsw.gov.au.