Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 21 October 1993



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 21 October 1993

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Parliamentary Record 21


Debates for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Thursday 21 October 1993 ensure that, in his promotional material, he includes some appropriate cautionary notes about the potential ... Mr Manzie: The only promotion that I will be doing will be the behaviour of the legal ... Mr PARISH: ... danger to citizens if they take precipitate and unwise action to arrest people. From my involvement with Neighbourhood Watch and the Community Policing Section of the Northern Territory Police Force, I know that they are always very assiduous to caution, warn and educate members of Neighbourhood Watch and members of the general community. Taking the law into one's own hands and trying to arrest an offender in the act is often fraught with peril. It is something that, generally speaking, one should do only in extreme circumstances. The Community Policing Section will always tell members of the public that, in almost all circumstances, they should telephone the police and not put themselves at risk. Even if someone assesses that someone committing an offence looks like a little punk whom he should be able to arrest without any difficulty, that position can be reversed very quickly if it turns out that the little punk has a gun or a knife and is ready to use it. That is something that I know that the police are very concerned about. They do not like to encourage people to exercise the power of citizen's arrest. However, with that caveat, there are clearly some exceptional circumstances where that power is necessary. From Justice Mildren's decision, there appears to be no doubt that the common law power of citizen's arrest was abolished inadvertently by the Criminal Code. Clearly, it needs to be reinstated. Members have mentioned some extreme situations that might occur, such as finding an offender in one's daughter's bedroom where there is a need to act quickly and effectively. In regard to shoplifters and security guards, if the offenders are allowed to escape with the goods, by the time they are found they may have secreted the goods somewhere and it will not be possible to obtain a conviction. That is another situation where the power to arrest and detain until the police arrive is necessary. Certainly, it goes beyond the existing power to protect one's life, limb and property. That is one dimension of it and that has not been abolished, but it goes beyond that. There are exceptional circumstances where one ought to be entitled not only to protect one's life, limb and property but to apprehend and detain the offender until the police arrive. I am sure that any lawyer would say to a person, who came to them for advice on how to act in situations of this kind, that, even when one is apprehending somebody who is caught in the act, leaving no doubt that they are committing an offence, one is still walking a fine line. There is the question of what is or is not excessive force. Often it is a fine judgment and it is a fine judgment that the police ... Mr Collins: It is a spur of the moment thing. One does not have time to think about it. Mr PARISH: That is the trouble. Police are in a position to make judgments of that kind because they are trained for years to make decisions like that, and have often only a split second in which to make them. They are trained in methods of restraint and so on, including restraint of persons much larger than themselves. If a person has been trained in those methods ... 10 219

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