Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Police. The action I am seeking is in relation to a matter that was raised by Wayne Gatt of the Police Association Victoria with respect to the costs of telephone triangulation, also known as pinging. Triangulation is a valuable police investigative tool that can be used to determine the location of a mobile handset in real time. We know that often when cars are stolen or when houses are broken into mobile phones are taken. By sending a ‘ping’ to the phone, the network provider can calculate the approximate location of the handset and return a result with an area map and current coordinates.
Unfortunately the telecommunications companies are charging police sometimes exorbitant sums of money to provide this service. There are significant constraints on our police and their ability to investigate crime and to find missing persons by these budgetary constraints. Often in the metropolitan areas they are able to use Optus and Vodafone, which offer a far cheaper service; in the regional areas they are limited to using Telstra, which will charge $500 for one triangulation, successful or not. The other telcos charge a lot less — for example, Optus charges $4.90. In the regional areas this is a particularly difficult thing.
I am suggesting that no-one should profit from crime or misfortune in this way, particularly not Telstra. I am calling on the minister to examine and address this issue and look at the disproportionate costs that are certainly putting Victorians at risk and really inhibiting police from doing their job, due to budgetary constraints.