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Police Move On Direction In NSW

Police Move On Direction In NSW

The exercise of police powers is an essential aspect of maintaining law and order in any society. In New South Wales, police officers are granted specific powers and responsibilities under the Law Enforcement Powers and Responsibilities Act 2002 also known as LEPRA. Among these powers is the ability to issue a “move on” direction to individuals or groups whose behaviour or presence poses a potential risk to public safety.


However, questions often arise regarding whether NSW police officers are obligated to identify themselves when issuing such directions. In this guide, we will look into the legal framework surrounding police powers, the obligations of officers, and how individuals can seek legal advice in such situations.

Understanding Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2002

The Law Enforcement Powers and Responsibilities Act 2002 outlines the legal framework governing the powers and responsibilities of NSW police officers. This legislation grants officers the authority to exercise various law enforcement powers to maintain public order, prevent crime, and ensure the safety of the community.


One of the powers vested in NSW police officers is the ability to issue a “move on” direction when they reasonably believe a person’s behaviour or presence constitutes harassment or intimidation of another person or persons, poses a risk to public safety, or is likely to result in damage to property.


The Criteria for Issuing a Move On Direction


For a police officer to issue a “move on” direction, they must have reasonable grounds to believe that a person’s behaviour or presence fulfils one of the criteria specified in the Law Enforcement Powers and Responsibilities Act 2002. These criteria are crucial in ensuring that the exercise of such powers is fair, just, and necessary to maintain public order.


According to Section 197(1) of the Law Enforcement Powers and Responsibilities Act (LEPRA):


A police officer is empowered to issue a directive to an individual in a public setting if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the individual’s behaviour or presence in that location:


  • Is impeding another person or persons, or obstructing traffic,
  • Amounts to harassment or intimidation of another person or persons,
  • Is inducing or likely to induce fear in another person or persons, provided that the conduct in question would similarly cause fear in a person of reasonable fortitude,
  • Involves the unlawful supply of a prohibited drug, or
  • Pertains to the unlawful acquisition, procurement, or purchase of any prohibited drug.

Under Subsection 197(2) of the Law Enforcement Powers and Responsibilities Act (LEPRA), the exercise of move-on powers is subject to the following constraints:


A directive issued by a police officer in accordance with this provision must be deemed reasonable given the specific circumstances and serve the purpose of:


  • Minimising or eradicating the hindrance, harassment, intimidation, or fear,
  • Preventing the distribution or solicitation to distribute the prohibited drug, or
  • Preventing the acquisition, procurement, or purchase of the prohibited drug.

Failing to adhere to a move-on directive constitutes a violation, resulting in a potential maximum fine of $220, which can be immediately issued by police.


Furthermore, persisting in a state of intoxication and disorderliness subsequent to receiving a move-on directive is also considered an offence according to the Summary Offences Act. The corresponding penalty for non-compliance is a fine of $1,650.

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Are Police Officers Obligated to Identify Themselves?

While the Law Enforcement Powers and Responsibilities Act 2002 does not explicitly state that NSW police officers are obligated to identify themselves when issuing a “move on” direction, it is generally considered a good practice. Identifying oneself as a police officer helps establish trust and transparency in law enforcement interactions.


It is important to note that in any encounter with a police officer, individuals have the right to request the officer’s name, rank, and station. This information provides a means of accountability and allows individuals to later seek legal advice or file a complaint if they believe their rights were violated during the interaction.


In situations where individuals have concerns about the legality or appropriateness of a “move on” direction, knowing your legal rights and seeking legal advice is paramount. Consulting with a criminal defence lawyer who is well-versed in the Law Enforcement Powers and Responsibilities Act 2002 can provide valuable insights into the specific circumstances and whether the direction issued was in compliance with the law.


It is also crucial for individuals to understand their rights and responsibilities during a police encounter. While it is important to comply with a move on direction if issued lawfully, individuals should also be aware of their rights to request identification from the officer and, if necessary, to seek legal redress if they believe their rights were violated.


Balancing Individual Rights and Public Safety


The issuance of a move on direction reflects a delicate balance between individual rights and the broader interests of public safety. NSW police officers are entrusted with the responsibility to ensure the well-being and security of the community. However, this must be carried out within the bounds of the law and with due respect for the rights of individuals.


The Law Enforcement Powers and Responsibilities Act 2002 grants NSW police officers the authority to issue move on directions under specific circumstances. While the Act does not explicitly mandate officers to identify themselves during such interactions, it is generally considered best practice to do so. Individuals have the right to request the officer’s identification, and seeking legal advice in situations of concern is an important step in upholding individual rights and ensuring accountability in law enforcement actions.


By understanding the legal framework surrounding police powers, individuals can navigate interactions with law enforcement officers with confidence and awareness of their rights and responsibilities.


If you have been charged with a serious indictable offence or summary offence in NSW, contact our criminal lawyers in Parramatta. Lyons Law have leading criminal defence lawyers who can represent you in these matters and obtain the best outcome for you. In addition, we offer free legal advice for up to 15 minutes on the phone.

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