Expansion of Court and Police Powers in Relation to Public Safety

The amendments passed by the Queensland Parliament in the Serious and Organised Crime Legislation Amendment Act 2016 (Qld) relating to the Peace and Good Behaviour Act 1982 (Qld) have now commenced, increasing police powers and expanding the types of orders that the courts can make. This article will cover 3 types of orders. We note that each order is subject to its own separate rules, hence if you are subject to another type of an order not covered, you should contact our lawyers as the procedures you should follow could differ substantially.

Public Safety Orders

Public safety orders are orders which prohibit a person or group from entering, attending, remaining in, or doing certain things on a specified premises, at an event, or in a stated area.

The amendments introduce the possibility for police officers ranked Inspector or above to make a public safety order of up to 7 days without making an application to the court. To make such an order, they must be satisfied that the presence of a person or group at a particular event or within a specific area poses a serious risk to public safety, and that the making of an order is appropriate in the circumstances.

Breaching such an order is an offence which can carry a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment or a fine of $37,845.00 (this figure will increase in July of each year). As such, if a public safety order has been issued against you, it is vital that you do not enter the area under any circumstances, even if you believe the police are mistaken in issuing the order. If the order has been issued by a police officer for more than 72 hours (3 full days), the matter is appealable to the Magistrates Court.

If the police seek an order greater than 7 days, they must make an application to the Magistrates Court. They are unable to make a public safety order for more than 7 days.

Police now have the power to stop people from entering specified places, or remove them from such a place. They may also stop, search and detain vehicles approaching or leaving a place that is subject to a public safety order.

If an order has been issued against you, or you have been charged with breaching an order, you should contact our lawyers who have over 100 years of combined experience in banning orders.

Restricted Premises Orders

A police officer ranked Sergeant or above may apply to the Magistrates Court for the grant of a restricted premises order. In determining whether to grant the order, the Magistrate must be satisfied that the senior police officer reasonably suspects that one or more disorderly activities have taken place on the premises and are likely to take place again on the premises, and that making such an order is appropriate. This is a very low threshold to meet, as the Magistrate does not have to form their own reasonable suspicion, but rather just be satisfied that the police officer has a reasonable suspicion.

The Act defines disorderly activity extremely broadly. It includes drunkenness, disorderly or indecent conduct, entertainment of a demoralising character, unlawful supply of drugs or alcohol, unlawful possession of firearms or explosives, excessive fortification of the premises, and participation of certain people in the management of the premises.

Premises already declared to be ‘prescribed premises’ under the previous VLAD laws are considered to be subject to restricted premises orders.

The issuance of a restricted premises order makes it a criminal offence for disorderly activity to take place on the premises. Breaching such an order results in the owner of the premises being liable to a maximum penalty of 18 months imprisonment or        $18,922.50 (this figure will increase in July of each year) for the first offence, or a maximum of three years imprisonment or $37,845.00 (this figure will increase in July of each year) for subsequent offences.

Police officers are granted a substantial amount of power in premises subject to a restricted premises order. They may search these premises without applying for a warrant as often as they wish provided the order has not lapsed. They may also seize items such as alcohol, drugs, firearms, explosives, entertainment systems, pool tables, and much more, without any further orders from a court.

If you have been served with a restricted premises order, or charged with breaching a restricted premises order, it is vital that you contact our lawyers immediately to protect your interests.

Fortification Removal Orders and Stop and Desist Notices

The Act now allows police officers at the rank of Inspector or above to issue a stop and desist notice if they observe excessive fortifications being erected on a premises that is being used for criminal activity, or is occupied by recognised offenders or their associates, or other participants in a criminal organisation. Breaching the stop a desist notice does not constitute an offence, however it will substantially assist the police in obtaining a fortification removal order.

A police officer ranked Sergeant or above is able to apply to the Magistrates Court for a fortification removal order which will require an owner or occupier of a premises to remove erected fortifications from a premises within the time stated upon the order. The court may make an order if the court is satisfied of the same conditions as noted above for stop and desist notices. If the owner or occupier fails to remove the fortifications, police may do so using whatever force is necessary. Obstructing police while they are doing so carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.