Victorian police are planning a crackdown on corruption in racing, but their offer to share vital information with the sport's administrators continues to be stymied by State laws.

Chief commissioner Ken Lay and other senior police have acknowledged a loss of focus on the racing industry.

It is a situation highlighted by recent race-fixing allegations concerning jockey Danny Nikolic and several other riders, and the Damien Oliver betting scandal.

Lay admitted in newspaper reports yesterday that police might have "dropped the ball" where racing was concerned.

Assistant commissioner Stephen Fontana followed up his boss' concerns with a promise of greater scrutiny of racing.

Fontana agreed better sharing of information between police would assist the policing of the industry.

"From time to time police, in their investigations, do come across things that might not involve criminal activity," Fontana said.

"But when you look at what's happening within the industry itself, you'd say 'look, there's a lot of inappropriate conduct'.

"We should be able to assist those regulatory agencies with their job to help keep the industry clean."

Much of the information concerning the recent high-profile cases has come from telephone intercepts made during other criminal investigations, in particular the Les Samba murder inquiry.

But Fontana says current legislation prohibits police from sharing all the information they gain from phone taps and listening devices.

He said regulatory bodies such as Racing Victoria, which oversees the State's racing industry, were precluded from receiving such information.

State Racing Minister Denis Napthine is yet to introduce the necessary legislation, claiming that current laws are sufficient and that Victoria's racing industry is among the cleanest in the world.

"I have every faith and belief that racing in Victoria is run at the highest level of integrity and it's recognised around the world as one of the cleanest racing industries," Napthine said when the race-fixing allegations were aired last year.

Napthine's assertion has since been battered by continuing revelations and a lack of visible action on the race-fixing claims.

He has since called for a review of the handling of the betting case in which Oliver admitted placing a $10,000 bet on a horse that won a race in which he was riding one of the top fancies.

Napthine said investigations by RV stewards "raised questions regarding the general integrity of thoroughbred racing in Victoria".

"I was very concerned about allegations of mishandling and delays in resolving the Oliver inquiry," he said.

We should be able to assist …. to help keep the industry clean."Stephen Fontana

Australian Associated Press

The West Australian

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