Ombudsman to probe surveillance claims

Last updated 14:28 07/10/2012

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The New South Wales Ombudsman will be given special powers to probe claims of phone tapping and bugging by an internal NSW police unit and the way they were investigated.

Premier Barry O'Farrell says the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) Inspector has agreed that Ombudsman Bruce Barbour should investigate Strike Force Emblems and the issues that led to it being set up.

The strike force was established in 2003 to look into an internal police unit's operation in 2000 which put more than 100 officers under surveillance.

"The NSW Government will give the Ombudsman the appropriate powers needed to conduct the inquiry," O'Farrell said in a statement today.

The announcement of the probe by Barbour follows "a number of complaints and submissions relating to Emblems" received by the Ombudsman and the PIC, O'Farrell said.

"The breadth of the complaints received by both offices meant it was appropriate for the Ombudsman to investigate," the premier said.

O'Farrell has previously expressed frustration the Emblems 2004 report, which revealed that the Special Crime and Internal Affairs (SCIA) unit had spied on 114 people including more than 100 officers, had not been made public.

According to media, citing leaked copies of the report, some officers in the SCIA falsified information to obtain listening devices, telephone intercepts and search warrants and, in one case, induced a criminal to commit perjury in front of a magistrate.

In May, O'Farrell and Police Minister Michael Gallacher asked the PIC Inspector to review the Emblems report and advise if it could be released.

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