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‘I make no apology’: Top cop defends accessing SafeWA data

Gareth Parker & Liam Bartlett
Article image for ‘I make no apology’: Top cop defends accessing SafeWA data

The Police Commissioner has defended his decision to access data from the SafeWA app, despite promises it would only be used for contact tracing.

Police appropriated information from check-ins to help with two serious criminal investigations, including the murder of Rebels bikie boss Nick Martin.

But Chris Dawson told Gareth Parker police will continue to use every means available to fight crime.

“The police have only got information twice out of 240 million transactions, and they are exceptional circumstances, and it is lawful,” he said.

“If any person is murdered, the police have a duty to collect the best possible evidence and put that before the court.

“I expect my officers to do everything possible to bring a murderer to justice, and to bring a person who stabs another to justice.

“I am not going to take half measures with that, and I make no apology for it.”

When the app was introduced, it was promised any personal data would only be used for contact tracing purposes, but the Police Commissioner said there was a loophole in the fine print.

“The terms and conditions said it can be issued for a lawful reason.”

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Emergency legislation was introduced to WA Parliament yesterday to stop anyone other than WA Health being able to access the data.

Premier Mark McGowan said while police have used the data in very limited circumstances, people’s privacy must be protected.

“The confidence in the app, should we have another outbreak, is paramount and so that is why we are legislating to remove any capacity for this information to be used by any other agency, especially police,” he told Gareth Parker.

“I don’t blame them for doing all they can to try and solve crimes … but we have to make sure we have everything in our power to prevent the spread of the virus if it comes back.”

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WA Attorney General John Quigley told Liam Bartlett the new legislation will prevent future breaches.

“We have built this ring of steel around this information so they can’t get to it again,” he said.

He urged West Australians to continue using the app.

“It is a really important tool to help us keep COVID out.”

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Gareth Parker & Liam Bartlett