Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Update on Stop and Search Laws

I last blogged about this on October 21st (http://jigsawsthoughts.blogspot.com/2010/10/its-start.html). Now we have the following report:

Police Minister Rob Johnson says stop and search laws on track

POLICE Minister Rob Johnson says controversial stop and search laws are still on track, despite accepting recommendations for change to the Bill.
Mr Johnson said following a thorough review of the committee’s report, 36 recommendations had been accepted either in full or with some modification.

Just weeks ago the proposed stop and search laws were dealt a severe blow when the parliamentary committee investigating the law said it should be "abandoned immediately.''

Three of the five committee members - Greens MP Alison Xamon, Nationals MP Mia Davies and Labor MP Sally Talbot - recommended the proposed legislation "should not proceed in any form".

Ms Xamon said the proposal was "deeply flawed" and "the sheer level of imposition on the civil rights of innocent citizens could simply not be justified".

But the committee has also recommended a series of proposed amendments.

Ms Xamon said: “Clearly this is legislation which never should have gotten this far".

"There has been an appalling lack of attention to appropriate safeguards, no costings or provision for additional resources, and no clear evidence as to its effectiveness in preventing crime," she said.

Law Society opposes 'Stop and Search'

Law Society of WA president Hylton Quail said the recent misuse of Tasers by police raised serious concerns about police abuse of the proposed stop and search laws.

"Incidents involving the inappropriate, reckless and possibly unlawful use of Tasers by police officers show that WA Police should not be given additional powers which will also be open to abuse.

"No matter what checks and balances are put in place, the fact is that these powers are excessive and a gross infringement of the civil liberties of all of us,'' Mr Quail said in a statement.

Mr Barnett has previously conceded the new laws will compromise civil liberties to a limited extent at certain times in certain places.

Bill can achieve its outcome - Johnson

Today, Mr Johnson said the committee's recommendations would still allow the Bill to achieve its intended outcome.

“Where I felt it was appropriate, I have accepted the recommendation or a slight variation of the recommendation,” he said.

“Issues such as size of prescribed or declared area; supervision of operations; time period of prescribed or declared operation; notification of declaration; and reviewing and reporting of operations are all recommendations that can be accommodated and for the most part were the intended method of operation.”

Mr Johnson said although he and the Police Commissioner had repeatedly explained the intention of the Bill and how police would enforce the legislation, continued campaigns of misinformation had created a situation where some people were unsure of what the Bill was actually trying to achieve and how the law would be applied.

“With this in mind, I believe that several of the committee’s recommendations, while not actually altering the intent of the Bill, are particularly useful as they will give a greater degree of clarity to it,” he said.

The Minister said he had not accepted some recommendations as they did not keep the intent of the Bill and would have rendered it almost useless.

These included the request to exempt children under 18 and to have special considerations for children and young people, mentally disabled people, and people with cultural dress. All these issues were already addressed in normal police training and operational procedures.

Mr Johnson said it remained the Government’s intention to pass the legislation through State Parliament by the end of the year.


Let's hope it's defeated in parliament then!


Morris said...

Indeed, Julie.

If it passes we'll lose even more freedom. We've lost quite enough already.

Sendarius said...

The Nationals helped to vote it down.

Now the premier is defending his police minister - that must mean he will be sacked soon.