Welcome to the info session on Transit Protective Services Officers (PSOs) Wednesday 15 February 2012
Introducing Your Rights on Track Visit Your Rights on Track on Facebook www.facebook.com/PSO.YourRightsOnTrack
Michelle McDonnell Project Manager Federation of Community Legal Centres
The PSO roll out- what you need to know PSO powers and your clients’ rights Jeremy Cass Program Manager Youth Crime Victoria Legal Aid
The PSO roll out What are Protective Services Officers? Baillieu government policy Trained by Victoria Police Working in ‘designated places’
What is a ‘designated place’? Railway premises Nearby places like car parks, roadways, tunnels etc.
How many PSOs and where?
• • • •
Legislative amendments passed in September Recruitment ads in September, 21 recruits began in November 18 graduating Friday 17 February Deployed at Flinders Street and Southern Cross Wednesday 22 February • 940 PSOs by 2014.
What powers will PSOs have? • Justice Legislation Amendment (Protective Services Officers) Act 2011 • Police Regulation Act 1958 • Similar powers to police in and near designated places (i.e. ask name and address, arrest, move on, search, detain, apprehend, infringements) • Do not have powers outside of working hours or outside of designated places.
What training do PSOs get? • 12 weeks at police academy (NB police cadets get 33 weeks) • includes firearms training • same training in dealing with: mental illness drug and alcohol affected people young people CALD people • supervision for the first three months by a senior transit police officer.
Where will people be held? • ‘Transition rooms’ small rooms, unlikely to hold more than one person if more than one person needs to be detained, extra police sent in CCTV within transition rooms • Hanging points – Victoria Police to use existing protocols for this • Working with Department of Transport to create infrastructure (currently one transition room at Flinders Street station) • Apparently there is extensive CCTV footage across City Loop train stations post-Commonwealth Games, this may influence where new transition rooms go.
How will the public identify PSOs? • • • •
uniformed at all times, similar uniform to police must wear name badges work in teams of two carry weapons and equipment: firearm capsicum spray hand-cuffs baton radio.
PSO powers: compared to police and authorised officers
Name and address When can a PSO ask for name and address? • Reasonable belief re: under 18 and consumption of alcohol • Person committing or about to commit public transport or a graffiti offence • Person driving in car-parks in designated places • Drug and alcohol tests What are my client’s rights? • Ask for the PSO’s name, rank and place of duty
Do police officers and AOs have the same powers as PSOs? •Police have same powers •AOs have same powers in relation to public transport and graffiti offences
Move on and removal powers
When can a PSO direct someone to move on? • When they are or are likely to: Breach the peace Endanger someone’s safety • When their behaviour is likely to cause injury or property damage or is a risk to public safety.
When can a PSO remove someone? • Person is committing or likely to commit a public transport offence AND the offence is likely to: endanger or annoy the public OR hinder someone working, like a PSO.
Examples of public transport offences • • • • • •
Claiming a concession when you’re not a concession-holder, Tampering with operating equipment, Gambling, busking or selling anything, Begging, Littering, Drinking or smoking where you’re not allowed to.
What are my clients’ rights? • Direction to ‘move on’ can only last up to 24 hours under SO Act • Cannot be moved on for protesting or picketing Do police officers and AOs have the same powers as PSOs? • Police have same powers • AOs have same powers in relation to public transport and graffiti offences
Search When can a PSO search someone? • Graffiti offences • Volatile substance possession • Weapons-related offences Types of searches include pat-down searches, bag searches, outer clothing searches. What are my clients’ rights? PSOs must conduct searches and make records of the search in accordance with the Victoria Police Manual: o PSO must be of the same sex, unless it is not reasonably possible, o PSO must make a written record, o PSO must give a receipt if they take anything.
Do police officers and AOs have the same powers as PSOs? • Police have same plus broader search powers • AOs do NOT have the same powers.
Arrest When can a PSO arrest someone? • Bail • Indictable offences (including those triable summarily) • Refusing to give name and address (only in some circumstances, e.g. suspected underage drinking) • Drunk and disorderly • Reasonable belief re: graffiti tools and public transport offences • Executing warrants What are my clients’ rights? • PSOs must comply with the Victoria Police Manual instructions on arrest and preventative action ; • Must be held in an area with appropriate privacy and security until police arrive; • Won’t be left unattended; • Must be handed into police custody as soon as practicable unless: o Released pending summary charges o Released where an infringement notice is issued o Where under 18 and detained for a volatile substance, released or given into the care of a suitable person or police member.
Do police officers and AOs have the same powers as PSOs? • Police have same powers; • AOs have the same powers re: public transport and graffiti offences; • PSOs, police and AOs can also make an arrest re: public order, court attendance, public safety and preventing a crime.
Mental health powers When can the PSO apprehend someone? • Mental Health Act 1986, • Reasonable belief that a person has recently attempted suicide, or caused serious bodily harm to themselves or someone else, or is likely to do so, • Can use reasonably necessary force.
What happens after apprehension? • PSOs must hand the person over to the police or a mental health practitioner as soon as practicable • Mental health assessment What are my clients’ rights? • Use of force is limited • Least restriction on liberty and privacy Do police officers and AOs have the same powers as PSOs? • Police have same powers of apprehension • AOs do not have the same powers
Power to fine When can a PSO fine someone? • Possessing a controlled weapon or graffiti implement • Littering • Underage drinking • Being drunk and disorderly • Swearing • Refusing to move on • Parking • Some public transport and ticketing offences. PSOs have discretion to provide warnings/cautions for some offences but this may not always occur in practice.
What are my clients’ rights? • Challenge the infringement in court – get legal advice first, • Ask for it to be withdrawn or revoked on the basis of ‘special circumstances’.
Do police officers and AOs have the same powers as PSOs? • Police have same powers • AOs can issue fines for any public transport offences that can be dealt with by infringement.
Seizure of property When can a PSO seize someone’s property? • Controlled weapons • Volatile substances • Graffiti tools • Proof of age documents (except for a licence) • Alcohol re: people under 18 What are my clients’ rights? • PSOs must follow the instructions in the Victoria Police Manual regarding seized property: PSO must make a written record of anything they take, PSO must give a receipt if they take anything.
Seizure of property Do police officers and AOs have the same powers as PSOs? • Police have same powers • AOs do not have the same powers.
PSO Powers & Young People PSOs can: • Ask for name and address • Arrest • Search • Move-on • Apprehend & detain • Use reasonable force
Searches For graffiti implements: • Young person must be 14 or over • Pat-down search only • No parent or guardian needs to be present If young person is chroming or about to chrome while being searched, PSOs must stop the search and follow procedures in Drugs, Poisons & Controlled Substances Act 1981.
Searches for weapons • Pat-down search, search of bags and jackets • Can seize weapons, stolen goods or drugs • Can seize alcohol from under-18’s Parent / guardian / independent person must be present when under-18 searched in a ‘planned’ designated area. No parent / guardian / independent person required when under-18 searched in an ‘unplanned’ designated area.
What are my clients’ rights? Before searching a young person, a PSO must: • Tell the young person why they are searching them, • Tell the young person their name, rank and place of duty, • Show the young person their ID (if not in uniform), • Give a copy of the written record of the search (if requested), • In a ‘designated area’, give a notice explaining this is why the young person is being searched. REMEMBER a young person can be charged or fined if they refuse to be searched. If a young person resists the search, a PSO can use reasonable force to search a young person.
Apprehension Powers & Young People PSOs have the power to apprehend and detain a young person:
If the young person appears to be suffering from a mental illness and may harm themselves or others; If the young person appears to be under 18 and is suspected of inhaling a volatile substance.
Apprehension under Drugs, Poisons & Controlled Substances Act • • •
The PSO must have reasonable grounds to believe the young person may cause harm to themself or others. PSOs have power to detain a young person until they are handed over to the police, guardian or to a healthcare professional. Handover must take place as soon as possible.
REMEMBER PSOs can use necessary force to apprehend and detain a young person but they must hand the young person over to the police, a healthcare professional or an appropriate guardian as soon as possible.
Complaints about PSOs and where to refer your clients
Michelle McDonnell Federation of Community Legal Centres
Complaints Possible complaints about PSOs may include: • Excessive use of force/assault. • Inhumane treatment while detained at the train station e.g.: under the Mental Health Act • Other misconduct.
Important points about complaints against Vic Pol • Complaint process is an important accountability measure. • Process can take a long time and be quite challenging as most complaints not independently investigated: police investigating police- can be hard to prove if don’t have independent evidence e.g. CCTV. • If police have charged your client/ likely to charge over an offence related to the complaint, best to refer your client to a lawyer experienced in dealing with police complaints. • Your Rights on Track project wants to know about issues with PSOs. Media campaign and evidence based reports are important. • Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal: can make application for compensation for injury even if no charges laid. CLCs can offer advice on this.
Who to complain to? • Office of Police Integrity (OPI) (to be replaced by Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission: IBAC) o Serious PSO misconduct e.g. assault • Ethical Standards Division (ESD) • PSOs supervisors: Transit Safety Division
Practical tips and referral process Aim: Your client needs accurate records and back up evidence. E.g.: CCTV/photos soon after the incident and legal advice and information on pros and cons of complaints process Some points: • Fast track: Consider referring your client to a lawyer with experience in police complaints. Federation of Community Legal Centres telephone referral service Monday to Friday 9am-5pm: Ph 03 9652 1500. • In the meantime, your client should get together accurate detailed written record of what happened, witness details- mobile phone camera footage, witness records and photos/ doctor statement of injuries.
Complaints Mental Health Act powers • Potential involvement of PSOs, police, mental health or medical practitioners & mental health services • Multi-staged process – incl. apprehension, transport, mental health assessment / examination, involuntary detention &/or treatment • Consider referring client for legal advice • Different complaints bodies, different complaints processes (eg. Office of the Chief Psychiatrist, Health Services Commissioner, Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, Mental Health Review Board) Practical tips: • PSO should complete a ‘Mental Disorder Transfer Form’ • PSO may have access to LEAP – Victoria Police database • Make FOI request for access • Consider referring for legal advice
Advice and casework on PSO complaints How can Community Legal Centres (CLCs) help? • Our specialist CLCs dealing with police complaints: o Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre o Fitzroy Legal Service. No defined criteria for casework – case by case basis • Specialist CLCs may approach Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH) for assistance in pro bono legal representation for civil action.
Resources and contacts The Law Handbook On line chapter on Complaints against Victoria Police On line chapter on Legal Action against Police (civil and criminal) www.lawhandbook.org.au Federation of Community Legal Centres www.communitylaw.org.au Phone referral service: 03 9652 1500 OPI 03 8635 6188; 1800 818 387 (toll free) Aboriginal Liaison Officer: 03 8635 6135 www.opi.vic.gov.au ESD [email protected]
www.police.vic.gov.au for on line complaint form
Your clients’ experiences: Contact Michelle McDonnell Project Manager for Your Rights on Track [email protected]
03 9652 1507
Victoria Legal Aid: Legal Help phone-line Cleona Feuerring Senior Legal Help Lawyer Victoria Legal Aid
What is Legal Help? • • • •
Operated by Victoria Legal Aid Free legal information on the phone Monday to Friday, 8.45am to 5.15pm Interpreters or in-house bi-lingual workers: Arabic, Croatian, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Polish, Serbian, Ukrainian and Urdu.
What happens when you call? • • • •
Initial assessment Information and relevant referrals In some cases, advice In some cases, appointment.
Getting involved with Your Rights on Track • Connect with us on Facebook www.facebook.com/PSO.YourRightsOnTrack • Volunteering • Referring on clients and getting orgs to support us • Getting active in the media to raise awareness
Your questions and our answers about PSOs Michele Lee Senior Community Legal Education Co-ordinator Victoria Legal Aid
Please wait for the roving mike before you ask your question.
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