: Review of police move-on powers

Review of police move-on powers

Elyse Methven
New South Wales

The NSW Ombudsman is calling for people to comment on new legislation concerning police move-on powers.  In June and September 2011 new laws were enacted, aimed at curbing alcohol related violence and anti-social behaviour.  Parliament indicated that these laws were not aimed at vulnerable groups such as Indigenous Australians, the homeless or the mentally ill.

Section 198 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW) (‘LEPRA’) now authorises police to direct an intoxicated person to move-on from a public place and not return for a specified period.  Prior to last year’s amendment, police could only issue a move-on direction to an intoxicated person who was in a group of 3 or more. 

The police officer must believe on reasonable grounds that the person’s behaviour in the place as a result of the intoxication:

  1. is likely to cause injury to any other person or persons, damage to property or otherwise give rise to a risk to public safety, or
  2. is disorderly.

Failure to comply with the move-on direction can result in a maximum fine of $220.

The Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW) (‘the SO Act’) was also amended last year to create a new offence for persons who have been given a move-on direction. Section 9 of the SO Act provides that a person:

  1. who is given a move on direction for being intoxicated and disorderly in a public place, and
  2. within 6 hours after the move on direction is given, is intoxicated and disorderly in the same or another public place, is guilty of an offence.

Continuation of intoxicated and disorderly behaviour can attract a maximum fine of $660 (s 9 of the SO Act). Police may detain an intoxicated person if they are behaving in a disorderly manner, or in a manner likely to cause injury, or damage to property, or if they are in need of physical protection because they are intoxicated. 

The Ombudsman is asking that people voice their concerns about, and experiences (positive or negative) of the new move-on laws.  The Ombudsman will be publishing an issues paper and inviting submissions from all interested parties.  Further information can be found at the following website: http://www.ombo.nsw.gov.au/aboutus/reviewimplemlegislatn.html.

ELYSE METHVEN is a PhD candidate in Law at the University of Technology, Sydney. 

(2012) 37(3) AltLJ 206
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