Andrew Williams from Williams Barristers and Solicitors was interviewed by Vini Ciccarello on the drive time program for Radio Italians in relation to police powers. The following is an outline of the conversation.
Given New Year is approaching and the change/increase
in police powers specific to the City West Entertainment Precinct, it is timely to talk about your rights when interacting with the police.
- An effective and efficient police force is essential in a liberal democracy so why should we be concerned with our individual rights?
- The right to live your life without undue interference from the state;
- The right to “quiet enjoyment” of your home and other property;
- Both are also essential in a liberal democracy and finding the balance between the application of police powers and personal freedoms is an ongoing process.
Police Powers in South Australia
- How should I react when stopped or accosted by police in the street?
- This can be confronting but don’t panic,
- Be polite, listen to what the police have to say.
- If concerned call you lawyer.
- Do I have to answer the questions of the police?
- It is not unlawful for police to ask questions but only in specific circumstances are you compelled to answer.
- There are some questions that you must answer, for example: you must provide your name and address if police suspect you of committing an offence or suspect you can assist in the investigation of a serious offence or you have been involved in an accident;
- Generally speaking, after the above circumstances, you do not have to answer police questions;
- You do not have to provide a statement to the police;
- You do not have to provide police with “your side of the story”.
- Do you have any tips to apply when being questioned by police?
- If you are unsure as to your obligation to answer police questions simply ask, “Am I legally required to answer?” (If you are misled by the police into answering, a Court is likely to exclude that evidence on fairness grounds in their proceedings)
- Do I have to consent to a search of my person or my vehicle by the police?
- Don’t consent to personal searches or searches of your vehicle;
- If police have reasonable cause to suspect, there are stolen goods; evidence of an offence or goods possession of which constitutes and offence, police have the power to search in a public place.
- Don’t obstruct a search by police.
- If police exercise search powers unlawfully, a court is likely to exclude that evidence on fairness grounds.
- Do I have to sign anything (for example a statement in a notebook) presented to me by the police?
- Do not sign anything.
What are the changes to the law, that effect police powers in the City West Precinct?
- Searching without any need for reasonable cause is the major change. Police will first search with a metal detector and then progress to a personal search. You might think that most people have keys, coins, metal belt buckles that will be detected and result in searches without cause;
- Banning persons from the precinct;
- Directing persons to leave the precinct;
- Issuing on the spot fines for disorderly behaviour;
- Removing children under 18 from the precinct.
The law has also been changed to increase penalties for possession of unlawful objects or offensive weapons in the precinct.
- What is the area declared to be the City West Precinct in which these laws apply?
Area bounded by North Terrace, West Terrace, Currie Street and King William street;
- Friday and Saturday nights, from 6pm to 6am.
Contact your Lawyer
Once you have provided the basic required information to the police it is important that you speak to your lawyer about the next steps. Your next actions may be significant in determining the charges against you and the penalties.
We can assist you. Call Williams 84519040.
We also have a 24 hour emergency call line for people in police custody. Call 84519040.