MP Clayton Cosgrove is ruling out extending cellphone interception provisions as part of a private members’ bill aimed at deterring drag-racing in public streets.
After a woman bystander at a drag race was accidentally killed earlier this year, police sources discussed cellphone interception as a possible weapon. They pointed out that race venues were frequently discussed by cellphone, and that many drag-racing circles had “scanners” enabling them to listen in to police radio. They suggested police should have equal interception rights to combat the problem.
Cosgrove, formerly the public relations face for Clear Communications, senior police officers he consulted in the drafting of his bill had not raised the subject of interception.
Any request to intercept requires a warrant, served on the cellphone company, relating to a specific offence or intended offence, says police spokesman Jon Neilson. The classes of crime for which an interception application could be made are laid out in the Crimes Act Section 312B, as amended in 1997. They cover suspicion of everything from serious violent offences to theft of something worth more than $300, but do not currently cover drag-racing.
The planned law concentrates rather on threatened confiscation of an offender's vehicle, first for 28 days, and on a second offence, permanently, Cosgrove says.