QR data not used by Victoria Police but could help solve hit on WA bikie boss

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Victoria Police has made no applications to access QR check-in data for help solving crimes, the acting Premier says, but detectives in Perth have used information the codes collect in a bikie murder probe.

On Wednesday acting Premier James Merlino said any requests by police to use QR code data would need to come via a court order, but he was unaware of that happening since the systems were installed.

“No requests have been made,” Mr Merlino said.

Police have not sought access to data passed to the government via Victoria’s QR code system.Credit:Joe Armao

Data collected as part of the check-in system is encrypted and kept for only 28 days, he said.

Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson defended his force accessing SafeWA check-in data, carried out as part of murder and stabbing investigations.

He said the actions were lawful and done in exceptional circumstances, seeking information relating to the shooting of former Rebels bikie boss Nick Martin at Perth Motorplex in December and a separate stabbing in Victoria Park in March.

The funeral of bikie Nick Martin in Perth. WA police have used QR code data as part of their invesigation.Credit:Marta Pascual Juanola

“Police have a duty to investigate crime and we’re talking about a man who was shot in a public area with an allegedly high-powered weapon and other people were injured, and another situation where a man was stabbed three times in a public place and a person has been charged with grievous bodily harm,” Mr Dawson told Radio 6PR.

“Don’t expect me to do my job half-baked. I expect my officers to do everything possible to bring a murderer to justice … and I make no apology for it.”

Mr Dawson said he had quashed a third attempt by investigators to access the SafeWA data in February after a person delivered a bag of methamphetamine to a guest in hotel quarantine.

WA Attorney-General John Quigley has since moved to tighten the state’s privacy laws relating to the app’s data after it was revealed police twice issued warrants to the Department of Health.

Victoria’s COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar said on Wednesday that his state’s QR data was accessed only as part of the Health Department’s COVID-19 investigations.

He said information was not being shared with other organisations.

“If Victoria Police do want access to that QR code data, it would be via a court order,” Mr Weimar said.

On Wednesday, Victoria’s acting Police Minister Danny Pearson was asked by Liberal MP James Newbury at a parliamentary committee if police had access to data captured by the QR system.

Acting Police Minister Danny Pearson.Credit:Justin McManus

Mr Pearson said Service Victoria had a record of people’s names and phone numbers and that information was passed to the Health Department where required to match with people’s addresses.

“In the event that the police wish to subpoena that, or a court order to access that data, that is something that would be dealt with through the normal processes,” he said.

A police spokeswoman confirmed all warrant applications must be approved at court.

“Victoria Police is not aware of any warrant requests being sought to obtain QR code data,” she said. “It is at the discretion of a magistrate as to whether a warrant is granted.”

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