Economic Policy Scrutiny Committee Inquiry into the Firearms Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 November 2019
Tabled paper 1423
Tabled Papers for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
Tabled by Tony Sievers
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.
Department of the Legislative Assembly
Examination of the Bill 25 to determine (emphasis added), consequently the legislation is quite clear in its intent. However, the finding from the NSW Ombudsmans Review, that 14% of search events were based purely on the person being subject to an FPO suggests that it is important to ensure that police working in this area adequately understand the meaning of reasonably required. 3.39 The Committee sought clarification from NTPOL regarding existing or proposed safeguards to prevent abuse of these powers, and whether training will be implemented to ensure that the powers are used appropriately, and was advised that: The primary safeguard against the inappropriate use of police powers is oversight and review by the Ombudsmans office. NTPOL consider this to be the best safeguard for ensuring these powers are used appropriately. The NT Ombudsman is an independent body well placed to adequately review the use of police powers. Additionally, this Bill has been drafted with consideration of the fulsome review conducted by the NSW Ombudsman and the recommendations made in their final report. The NSW Ombudsmans final report found that incorrect use of powers was generally attributed to a misunderstanding of the powers rather than a blatant disregard for the limits of the powers. This misuse of powers can be adequately addressed by appropriate training of officers and a strong policy framework, both of which were recommendations made by the NSW Ombudsmans report. To that end, mandatory command training will be delivered to all frontline officers and on a needs basis to detectives. This training will cover both the legislation and the internal instruction on how FPOs operate and the associated powers. It will include specific training on the reasonably required threshold. Committees Comments 3.40 The Committee is satisfied with the advice provided by NTPOL regarding the rationale for using a threshold of reasonably required to determine when a search under proposed s 49U is appropriate. Although the NSW experience indicates that there is potential for inappropriate use of this power, the Committee considers that this can be addressed through appropriate training. In addition, proposed section 49ZB requires that, within 2 years after commencement, a review be undertaken by the Ombudsman to assess the exercise of powers conferred on police officers. This will provide an opportunity to address any issues that have arisen. Provision for an avenue of appeal to the court 3.41 The Committee sought clarification from NTPOL regarding the effect on the operation of the Bill of including a provision for an avenue of appeal to the court and was advised that: NTPOL notes that a court will exclude evidence that was obtained unlawfully from use in a criminal hearing. Any evidence found during an inappropriate use of police search powers would likely be held inadmissible under section 138 of the Evidence (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011. If the material evidence (such as a firearm found during a search under section 49W) was held inadmissible, police would be unable to prove in a court of law that the person subject to the firearm prohibition order had committed the alleged breach. The consequences of inappropriate use of police powers on subsequent criminal charges is an additional safeguard to avoid police using their powers unlawfully. The courts possess the ability to exclude unlawfully obtained evidence and there is no requirement to legislate this provision.