Push for tougher police laws

Police  Association of Tasmania president Pat Allen

Police Association of Tasmania president Pat Allen

PROPOSED legislative changes will give police powers to crack down on new offences, arrest people without warrant and issue fines for a greater number of crimes.

The Police Offences Act amendments outlaw body piercing and tattooing of minors, and target assaults on paramedics and firefighters and vandalising of war memorials.

The changes give police greater powers in relation to moving on people in public spaces.

People who fail to state a name and address could face a fine of $1300, up from $260, if they are suspected of being likely to commit a public order   offence.

The government also plans to drastically increase the number of offences that can be dealt with by a fine.

Currently only liquor-type offences attract fines under the act. 

The Police  Association of Tasmania has backed the reform, saying it should deliver time savings to officers on the beat.

Union president Pat Allen said an arrest could take up to an hour while completing court files took up to two hours on average.

``All that time will be reduced, allowing police more time to be patrolling and attending incidents,'' he said. 

``Of course, handing out infringement notices may not always work and arrests and court files in some cases cannot be avoided. 

``If it works, hopefully the scheme will be expanded.'' 

Prohibited behaviour such as flashing or ``mooning'' would be deemed a sexual offence under the changes.

Police will also be given the authority  to detain and search a person loitering near children without a warrant.

Officers would  be able to enter a house, shop or other premises without a warrant if they suspected a breach of the peace or ``riotous or disorderly conduct'' was taking place.

Under those circumstances any occupant, other than the tenant or owner, could be ordered off the premises for 12 hours.

If the law passes, people who destroy, damage, move or mark a war memorial face a $3250 fine or a year in jail. 

9``The desecration of memorials to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, to protect the freedom of our country is highly offensive,'' Police Minister Rene Hidding told the Parliament last week.

The penalty for making a false report to police is being increased tenfold to $13,000.

 It follows a false report to police in 2010 about a sinking  boat, which ultimately cost police $76,000, he said.

The amendments, which will receive bipartisan support, allow for arson that does not exceed $5000 damage to be dealt with in the Magistrates Court.

It also repeals outdated sections of the act, first written in 1935, including the offence of having untanned skins of sheep or fox, trying to sell a shipwreck or making a drain leading into the street.

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