Victoria Police will soon have the power to seize cryptocurrency and other digital assets, while officers will also be able to take on fake identities more easily to catch out criminals.

The state government is set to significantly increase Victoria Police’s power to crack down on organised crime with new laws being introduced into parliament today under the Major Crime and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2022.

The new laws are designed to give police greater ability to investigate organised crime, seize proceeds of crime and disrupt organised crime on the black market.

Members of Victoria Police attend a protest in Melbourne. Generic police officers uniform badge logo. Photo by Paul Rovere
Police will be given much more powers to crackdown on organised crime. (Paul Rovere)

Police will get the power seize digital assets, including digital wallets, and will be able to compel cryptocurrency platforms to hand over information about suspects.

Officers will also be able to take electronic data when executing search warrants, such as taking copies off data from computers and storage devices.

Police will also be able to bring specialist help to execute a warrant, such as locksmiths, with changes to be made to the processes around search warrants.

The laws will also help police target the growing issue of cyber-crime and online child grooming.

Specialist police will be able to go undercover much more easily than before, with the officers no longer to have to seek the permission from the the Chief Commissioner of Police to use an assumed identity.

Police minister Anthony Carbine said the law changes were about police powers being updated to reflect modern crime.

Stacked cryptocurrency coins (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin) (Getty)

“The way criminals operate is changing rapidly,” he said.

“We need to be just as quick in empowering our police to respond to new ways of offending.”

Police will also no longer have to apply to a court for guns and drugs to be forfeited from criminals, with a conviction for possessing a traffickable quantity of firearms and other drug and sexual offences set trigger the automatic forfeiture of the items.

Victims will also be able to be given more compensation for their crimes.

The requirement that victims’ compensation must relate to the same offence for which someone’s property was forfeited is set to be removed.

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The government has said the bill will ensure that appropriate safeguards and oversights of courts remain in place, such as court oversight over the execution of warrants and court direction that a seized item be returned to its owner.

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