Increased Police Powers During Commonwealth Games: How They Will Affect Your Rights
Increased Police Powers during Commonwealth Games: How they will affect your rights
During the Commonwealth Games period, police across the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns are afforded extended powers for the purpose of ensuring public safety. However, as acknowledged by the Queensland Law Society and the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties, these extended powers can also have negative impacts on residents of Queensland and visitors to the state.
The extended powers apply between 10 March 2018 and 18 April 2018. Some locations may have the extended powers applying for a shorter time during this period.
Protective Security Zones (PSZs)
The extended powers apply in areas which are designated as Protective Security Zones. These include areas associated with the Commonwealth Games events, or public transport infrastructure such as the Gold Coast-Brisbane Train Line, the G:Link Light Rail Tram Network, and the Helensvale Transport Hub. There is a potential for additional areas to be designated as Protective Security Zones by the Queensland Government up to and including 30 April 2018. Maps of the PSZs can be found on the Queensland Police website, by clicking here.
Searching Your Person
Usually, police will require a good reason to search your person without a warrant. This is not the case during the Commonwealth Games period at PSZs. Police may conduct a frisk search or inspect any item on your person without your consent or without a warrant. They may use a metal detector to scan your person or any item within your possession. They may also take you to another place to conduct the search. Police must still comply with their usual requirements to cause minimal embarrassment to you and take reasonable care to protect your dignity. While failure of the police to comply with these requirements may be improper on their part, you should not obstruct the search in any circumstances as you may be committing an offence. If the search was not performed correctly, it is possible that a court could exclude any evidence obtained through the search from being admissible.
Searching Your Vehicle
Similarly to searching your person, the police may search your vehicle during the Commonwealth Games in PSZs without a good reason. They can stop and detain your vehicle and require you to exit. They may take control of your vehicle to move it to a specified location, or order you to move it. The police may open any part of your vehicle, including forcefully, if it is for the purpose of searching it. They can also order you to open parts of your vehicle, such as the glove box. The police may search your vehicle if it is unattended. You should comply with police directions and not obstruct with the search in any way, otherwise you risk committing an offence.
Searching Your Residence
If you reside in a PSZ, the police have some extended powers during the Commonwealth Games. However, these are far more restricted than their powers for searching your person or vehicle. The police may only enter and search your residence if they either obtain your consent, or believe there is a danger to the safety of persons. If the police come to your property without a warrant, you should advise them that you do not consent to a search. However, if they wish to enter regardless, you should not obstruct them under any circumstances else you risk committing an offence. If the search was improper, it is possible that a court could exclude any evidence obtained from being admissible. There are parts of your residence that police may search regardless. These include your carport if access to it is not restricted, your verandah or deck if it is openly accessible, the land around your residence, the area underneath your residence if it is openly accessible, and any other external part of your residence such as your gutters.
I am not carrying any weapons or something that could cause harm to the public during the Commonwealth Games. Could these laws still affect me?
Yes. While promoted as being for the purpose of enhancing public safety during the Commonwealth Games, these extended search powers are not specific to locating items that could cause direct harm to others. If the police find you with illicit drugs (even if for personal use), illegal pornography, stolen items, or any other illegal material, they may arrest or charge you on the spot.
What should I do if I have been arrested or charged?
You should obtain legal advice immediately. You should tell police your name, address and date of birth and provide them with identification if requested. They may also require you to provide them with your identifying particulars such as a fingerprint. You should not answer any police questions whether asked informally or in an interview, and advise them you wish to exercise your right to silence until you obtain legal advice.
You may call our 24 hour line at any time on 0488 999 980 or 18004POTTS.
This article is for informational purposes only and not legal advice. Potts Lawyers has no association with the Commonwealth Games or GOLDOC and this article is the provision of factual statements authored by Potts Lawyers.
Article written by Cameron Browne