How do police powers and move on directions operate?

by The FindLaw Team

One of the powers that the police possess is that relating to move on directions when a person is in public place. There are a number of working parts when looking at the rules in relation to providing a direction, such as when the police can give a direction, and their obligations when giving a direction which this piece will cover.

When can the police give a move on direction?

A police officer can give a person a direction if they are in a public place, and the officer believes on reasonable grounds that the behaviour of the person or their presence causes any of the following:

  • obstructs another person, persons or traffic;
  • constitutes harassment or intimidation of another person or persons;
  • causes, or is likely to cause fear to another person or persons if the relevant conduct would be such as to cause fear to a person of reasonable firmness;
  • unlawfully supplying, or intending to unlawfully supply, or solicit another person or persons to unlawfully supply any prohibited drug;
  • obtaining, procuring or purchasing any prohibited drug that would be unlawful to possess.

What type of directions can the police give?

Generally speaking, there are no limitations to the type of directions police officers are able to give, provided that the direction is reasonable in the circumstances for the purpose of reducing or eliminating the relevant conduct. If the move on direction is provided to an intoxicated person, the police may have the power to direct the person to not return to the area for a specified period of time.

What are the obligations of the police when providing a move on direction?

When providing a direction, the police if they aren’t in uniform, are generally required to provide evidence that they are a police officer by giving their name, station where they are based, and the reasons behind the direction.

Once a direction has been given and the person does not comply, the police officer is then required to warn the person that they are legally compelled to obey the direction. If the person still fails to comply with the direction, the police officer must then inform the person that failure to comply is an offence.

What happens if the person fails to comply with a move on direction?

Failure to comply with a direction without reasonable excuse is an offence if the police have followed the procedural requirements.         



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