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.

Potts calls for abolition of laws allowing 17-year-olds to be sentenced as adults

Queensland Law Society has called on the state government to implement swift legislation reform to ensure 17-year-olds are no longer considered adults in the eyes of the law.

Society president Bill Potts said it was simply appalling Queensland remained the only state or territory in Australia that treats 17-year-olds as adult offenders and subjects them to terms locked up in adult prisons with hardened and seriously violent criminals.

Mr Potts said Tuesday’s (Aug 30) revelation about the harsh summary punishment inflicted on a teenage offender by guards in an adult wing of Brisbane’s Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre lent credence to the Society’s long-held view that children should never be held in adult prisons.

“QLS has a long-standing policy against treating children as adults in the prison system,’’ he said.

“The Society has regularly called for an end to this archaic and, quite frankly, barbaric practice.

“What we have seen of late is beyond the pale for adults, let alone children.”

Mr Potts said that it was telling that a person of 17 could not legally buy a drink or even vote in this state, but could be punished as an adult for any offence.

“The Society has a policy committing to evidence-based policy, and you won’t find a single scrap of evidence to show that there is any benefit to the community or to the offenders in putting 17-year-olds in adult prisons,” he said.

“Exposure to the harsh reality of adult prisons reduces the chances of rehabilitating young offenders markedly, and if we care about salvaging these young lives we need to keep them out of the adult system.”

Mr Potts said it was time the Labor Palaszczuk Government got serious about this issue and act to make legislative changes to ensure no more children ended up locked in adult Queensland prison cells.

He said it was not uncommon for Queensland judges and magistrates to comment on a frequent basis how Queensland was the only state or territory in Australia to treat 17-year-olds as adult offenders and how out-dated and appalling the laws were when passing sentence against them.

“On the first of September next year we will celebrate – or, more appropriately, mourn – 25 years of treating children as adults in our prison system; how many more pictures of children in bondage do we need to see before the government acts?”

Appointment of Queenslander as nation’s first female High Court Chief Justice a worthy and inspired choice

Queensland Law Society has praised the Federal Government for its appointment of esteemed jurist Susan Kiefel as the nation’s first female High Court Chief Justice.

President Bill Potts said the appointment was a just and warranted recognition for the tireless leadership and contribution Justice Kiefel had made to the judiciary since her appointment to Queensland’s Supreme Court in 1993.

“Justice Kiefel’s appointment is most welcome and the decision to appoint her is probably the easiest one Prime Minister Turnbull will have to make during his tenure; Her Honour is clearly the best person for the job,” Mr Potts said.

“She is not only a Queenslander by birth but also by deed. She has already had a long and successful career at the Queensland Bar, being the first woman to be appointed Queen’s Counsel in Queensland.

“Her Honour has also given freely of her time to speak at Queensland Law Society seminars, something for which the Society is extremely grateful-and which indicates Her Honour’s willingness to give back to the profession.”

Justice Kiefel will replace retiring Chief Justice Robert French and her appointment ends an almost 115-year stranglehold on a position that has been exclusively held by male members of the legal profession.

The appointment was announced by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday (Nov 29) ahead of Justice French’s imminent retirement.

Mr Turnbull, in making the announcement, said: “Susan Kiefel’s story is one that is an inspiration.”

He said Justice Kiefel left school at the age of 15 and began her working life as a legal secretary before studying law part-time through the barrister’s admission board.

“She has been one of Australia’s most outstanding judicial officers and her appointment crowns a great career with even greater judicial service yet to come in this most important role,” Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Potts said the newly appointed Chief Justice’s legal career was almost second to none in the legal profession.

He said her list of legal achievements included: her admission as a barrister of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1975, becoming Queensland’s first female appointment as Queen’s Counsel in 1987, appointment to the Federal Court of Australia in 1994 and then to the High Court of Australia in 2007.

“Simply put, Justice Kiefel has had a stellar career and that experience makes her the perfect choice as Australia’s most senior jurist,” Mr Potts said.

Potts says new anti-bikie laws are a step forward – but not without problems

Queensland Law Society has applauded the Palaszczuk Labor Government for dispatching the LNP’s flawed and unworkable VLAD anti-bikie laws to the dustbin of history.

However, Society president Bill Potts said the new Serious and Organised Crime Legislation Amendment Bill had its own inherent shortcomings and problems – but was a marked step forward from the previous legislation.

“QLS is delighted the government has repealed the Newman LNP Government’s controversial Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Association Act – which was the subject of considerable criticism among the legal profession,” he said.

“The Society has always strongly advocated for evidence-based legislation and policy.

“We have always sought to consult with the government and the opposition so that the legislation can be properly developed.

“We were thrilled to be allowed to take part in the consultation process, however, not all of our recommendations were adopted.”

Mr Potts said the Society would watch with interest whether the new laws make the difference expected to keep the streets and communities of Queensland safe for everyone.

“The Society also hopes the laws will be the subject of constant review – preferably every 12 months – and tweaked where necessary to ensure they are as effective as required,” he said.

“We need laws that deter people from crime but where the balance lies is something the public will be debating.

“What is necessary is better resourcing for police rather than more law and not enough order.

“Under this new legislation the law is clearer and more likely to garner prosecutions. The proof will be in the pudding and the police now have a legislative tool to successfully prosecute.”

Mr Potts said positive aspects of the laws included empowering crime fighters to crackdown hard on child exploitation, boiler-room fraudsters and outlaw criminal motorcycle gangs and will introduce new offences and increased penalties.

Inflammatory Social Media Posts Could Influence Jurors

Bill Potts said the use of social media to express opinions on cases currently before the courts had to be carefully considered to ensure that justice was not impeded.

“I understand that the public uses social media as a safety valve during highly emotional circumstances,” he said.

“However, there is real danger that words spoken out of anger may influence potential jurors.” Continue reading Inflammatory Social Media Posts Could Influence Jurors

Bill Potts Comments On Baden-Clay Conviction Downgrade

Bill Potts, President elect of the Queensland Law Society 2016 comments on the Court Of Appeals decision to downgrade Gerard Baden-Clay conviction of murder to manslaughter.

Potts explains how the court came to their decision and says that many legal experts aren’t surprise by the downgrade. He says the public should have confidence in the legal system and said the decision made by the three Court of Appeal judges, including Chief Justice Catherine Holmes, is the right decision according to Law.

The Court of Appeal after looking at all of the evidence was perfectly satisfied that the jury got it right. That is – that Gerard Baden-Clay did kill his wife. This is going to be on his conscience for the rest of his life. Continue reading Bill Potts Comments On Baden-Clay Conviction Downgrade

Case Dismissed Against Accused Bikies Arrested While Buying Ice-cream

Anti-bikie law rally 2013A HIGH-PROFILE lawyer has rubbished Queensland’s anti-bikie laws, describing them as totally useless and nothing more than a political stunt.

His comments came as a court dismissed the case against five alleged bikies who were arrested under anti-association laws after they bought ice-cream during a Gold Coast holiday in January 2014.

The dismissal in Southport Magistrates Court this morning came as the prosecution revealed Continue reading Case Dismissed Against Accused Bikies Arrested While Buying Ice-cream