Greyhound Racing NSW has overhauled its Investigations unit as part of its ongoing reform of the NSW greyhound racing industry.
Increased kennel inspections, new covert surveillance techniques and the encouragement of informants to help expose wrongdoing will be among the tactics used by the new Investigations team, which was restructured in the wake of the live-baiting scandal earlier this year.
Karen Lees, who heads up the restructured team in her role as General Manager Compliance, said the team’s message for anyone failing to play by the rules could not be clearer.
“We will no longer be sticking our head in the sand when it comes to detecting wrong-doing in the NSW greyhound racing industry,” she said. “We have a strategic plan to find those who are doing the wrong thing, catch them and, if necessary, punish them.”
The restructured Investigations team is headed up by Ms Lees, who brings extensive experience from law enforcement, intelligence and investigative roles and has led other key regulatory reform elsewhere.
The team also includes Stephen Dodd, who brings wide-ranging investigations experience from his service with NSW Police, in the newly created role of Principal Investigator.
Two other Senior Investigators are also part of the team, which will also work alongside other agencies, including the RSPCA and other controlling bodies across Australian and New Zealand, industry stakeholders and animal welfare organisations, to ensure best practice outcomes for welfare and integrity issues.
The Investigations team is currently working closely with GRNSW’s Legal and Policy unit and GRNSW stewards to work through the backlog of inquiries related to ongoing live baiting investigations.
The team has also stepped up its kennel inspections and increased its coverage of inspections across NSW.
“I want people to know that we can turn up unannounced at any time to investigate kennels,” Ms Lees said. “We expect kennels to meet our code of practice requirements.
“Participants will have 28 days to deal with any issues, while any urgent welfare issues will be expected to be dealt with on the spot.”
GRNSW has under taken several steps in its ongoing reform of the NSW racing industry to ensure animal welfare remains the top priority.
In 2014/15 GRNSW Compliance officers inspected 1401 properties of licensed participants in NSW, an increase of more than 250% compared to 2013/14.
GRNSW also established a dedicated Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Hotline for people to report suspicions of welfare-related incidents.
The Hotline can be contacted on 1800 680 174 or via www.greyhoundwelfare.com.au and GRNSW encourages anyone with any welfare concerns to contact the Hotline.