In previous years, agencies had only used voluntary Technical Assistance Requests (TAR) to get service providers to help them, but the latest report shows NSW Police in the past year also turned to the first of the compulsory notices available.
That request, used in a homicide investigation, is the first use of a compulsory Technical Assistance Notice (TAN) to force a provider to use a capability they already possess. Assistance notices issued by state-level law enforcement are reviewed by the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
This leaves the compulsory Technical Capability Notice (TCN) as the only form of notice yet to be publicly disclosed as used. The TCN forces providers to build a new capability for agencies and requires sign-off from the federal Attorney-General and Minister for Communications. The report said no TCNs were sought across the reporting period.
Of the 25 TARs issued by agencies, NSW Police accounted for 16, Victoria Police for five, with the AFP and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission both issuing a pair. The category of offences under which the TAR was issued were eight for organised offences, seven for homicide, seven for drug offences, and one each for sexual assault, cybercrime, and acts intended to cause injury.
Almost 270,000 pieces of retained data were less than three months old, while over 5,700 were beyond the two-year retention window.
Victoria Police made the most requests, with over 110,000, followed by NSW Police on 106,000, and WA Police making just over 26,200 requests for the period.
Over 312,000 of the requests related to criminal offences, and almost 3,500 related to missing persons.
Following the trend of years past, drug offences continued to be the offence with the most requests, this year with 68,500, followed by fraud, homicide, unlawful entry, abduction, and sexual assault all sitting in a band between 29,000 to 20,000 requests each.
No agencies were authorised to become an enforcement agency in the 2020-21 reporting period, the report said.
Inception warrants also continued the trend of past years, with Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) members continuing to issue the vast bulk of said warrants, accounting for 2,900 of the 3,500 warrants issued.
Of the AAT member number, just shy of 1,700 warrants were applied for by NSW Police with the force only getting 72 from Federal Court judges. Similarly, the AFP had 590 warrants approved by AAT members from its 653 total.
Overall, 3,481 interception warrants were issued to all agencies, and information gained was used in 3,327 arrests, 6,424 prosecutions, and 2,610 convictions.