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Police must disclose affidavit procedure: LIV

Police must disclose affidavit procedure: LIV

The circumstances of the execution of all police affidavits must be disclosed, according to the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV). The LIV made this call today (5 October) after it was revealed…

The circumstances of the execution of all police affidavits must be disclosed, according to the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV).

The LIV made this call today (5 October) after it was revealed that police were signing, but not swearing, affidavits.

According to LIV, the revelation throws serious doubt upon the validity of search warrants (issued by magistrates who rely on the affidavits of police) and evidence that is obtained as a result of executing those warrants.

Acting LIV president Michael Holcroft said it was a matter of great concern that police had admitted to not following proper procedure.

"We expect police and lawyers to be held to the highest standards of accountability," said Holcroft. "It is simply beyond belief that Victoria Police had admitted, during a serious criminal trial, that they have not been following proper procedure with affidavits. The effect is that evidence that has been put to the court may have been improperly obtained and could have been excluded."

Holcroft said it was too early to tell what effect this would have on trials and past convictions, particularly those that relied on police affidavits for gathering of critical evidence.

Holcroft added that it is possible that appeals could result in cases where the only evidence upon which a conviction was based resulted from an improperly obtained search warrant.

"It is crucial to the justice system that those given authority to take affidavits respect the obligations and seriousness of that task," he said.

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