In October 2014, the Victorian Government referred to the Victorian Law Reform Commission the task of reviewing the use of regulatory regimes to help prevent organised crime and criminal organisations entering into or operating through lawful occupations and industries. The term ‘infiltration’ in the heading of the reference comprehends both entering into and operating through lawful occupations and industries.
There is a growing recognition—in Australia and in many other countries—that organised crime groups seek to infiltrate lawful occupations and industries to support their existing illicit activities and to provide new opportunities for profit and influence. That infiltration has the potential to cause great harm to the occupation or industry that is infiltrated, and to the broader community.
In a number of countries, regulatory regimes to counter this threat have been in place for some years and continue to be developed. In others, the traditional law enforcement approach still provides the dominant paradigm. There is a growing movement around the world to use regulatory regimes as a key tool for disrupting the activities of organised crime groups and preventing them from infiltrating lawful occupations and industries.
The Commission’s review is prophylactic: it considers ways to prevent infiltration. It is not directed at the investigation, prosecution or punishment of existing or past organised criminal activity. Further, the review is confined to lawful occupations and industries. It does not comprehend unlawful occupations or industries.
A central concern of the review was to be mindful of the burden that preventative regulatory regimes might place on legitimate occupations and industries and on regulators and law enforcement agencies.
The Commission heard from a range of regulators, law enforcement agencies and occupation and industry representatives about the difficulties in detecting and preventing attempts at infiltration. However, along with the challenges, the Commission also heard many positive stories, including accounts of improved collaboration between regulators and law enforcement agencies, about the quality of information on criminal activity that can be provided by occupation or industry members, and about regulators expanding beyond their traditional roles to develop skills and expertise in combating criminal activity.
The terms of reference ask the Commission whether a framework of principles can be established for assessing the risks of organised crime infiltration of different lawful occupations and industries and for developing suitable regulatory responses. This the Commission has done. The report proposes such principles. The terms of reference do not ask the Commission to make recommendations for law reform, and the Commission has not done so. However, the principles and propositions stated in the report may ultimately lead to legislative reform.
On behalf of the Commission, I acknowledge and warmly thank everyone who contributed to the review, including those who made submissions and attended meetings with the Commission. The Commission has drawn upon the expertise of many people in producing this report. The generosity with which they contributed their time, experiences and ideas is greatly appreciated.
I would also like to thank my fellow Commissioners who worked on this reference for contributing their time and expertise.
Finally, I acknowledge the abilities and dedication of the research team members, Emma O’Neill and Matt Gledhill. I thank them for their efforts.
I commend the report to you.
The Hon. P. D. Cummins AM
Chair, Victorian Law Reform Commission