Debates Day 3 - Thursday 21 October 1993
Parliamentary Record 21
Debates for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - T h u rsd a y 21 O c to b e r 1993 Mr EDE: This is the problem the police will have. That policeman will have to decide whether he will let that person go or whether he will confirm the arrest. If he confirms the arrest and it is found that the person is totally innocent, a person who was merely passing by and who happened to be caught up in this affair, the police officer can be charged for making the arrest and depriving somebody of their liberty. They can be charged for wrongful arrest. There should a provision in the legislation to cover the period around the handover of the suspected offender that would allow time for the police officer to check a few points before taking over completely from the person who made the arrest. This would enable the officer to take the alleged offender's name and address and to ascertain where they were from. They should be able to ask if the person arrested accepts what they have been arrested for. If they agree it is a fair cop, there is no problem, but the person may have had a perfectly legitimate reason for their behaviour. What is the police officer to do then? No provision is made for the complexity of that handover. There are all sorts of problems with the bill in terms of juvenile justice and the various provisions that apply in relation to juveniles. They are not covered by this legislation although, as I said, that could probably have been fixed if we had had some time to work through it. Proposed subsection (7) states: 'For the purposes of subsection (2) (a), "offence" does not include a contravention of or failure to comply with an instrument of a legislative or administrative character'. Certainly, I see that nobody has the right to arrest somebody for breach of a regulation or something like that, and that would appear to me to restrict the operation of the legislation to crimes only. I would like clarified a situation that I am told by taxi drivers has occurred quite often. The taxi driver will take a fare somewhere and the passenger will say that they will not pay the fare. They may offer excuses or whatever, but they will not pay. Quite often, the driver will take the passenger to the police station unless they pay. Effectively, that is a citizen's arrest. I am told that activity does not come under the provisions of the legislation and that a driver doing that is not covered. Whether it should be or not is something that ought to be discussed because it may be that some appropriate provision should be included. Mr Parish: Certainly, in New South Wales, a taxi driver is entitled to take a fare straight to the police station in that circumstance. Mr EDE: From what I can see, that is not covered here. These are issues which would have been talked through if this bill had been allowed to go through the normal stages over the usual period of time. Those are the sorts of problems that I have with this legislation. Because the intention is to pass this legislation with urgency, I think it should apply only to offences that are committed, and all these other qualified instances should be omitted. We can deal with those separately when we have time to discuss them rationally. That will not apply to the problem of seeing someone in your daughter's bedroom and your wanting to arrest them. That is fine. Let us legislate for that now and put these other possible circumstances to one side until we work out some safeguards. Mr BELL (MacDonnell): Mr Speaker, at the outset, I want to make it absolutely clear that the opposition supports the principle of a citizen's arrest. In order to reinforce that point, I will give a little background to this issue that was not given by the Attorney-General. I cite the sorts of examples where, as a legislature, we should be encouraging citizens by 10 212
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