The new Police Act continues to attract widespread criticisms and this has prompted Premier and Minister for Finance, Hon. Andrew Fahie to commit Government to undertake territory-wide consultations.
said since the Act received its first reading, he has been sent numerous letters from members of the public expressing their many areas of concern for them based on their own analysis of the Act.
Speaking on a televised radio interview last night, Premier said one of the areas that were raised was Section 24 of the Act.
He explained that Section 24 subsection 4 states that police may arrest without a warrant and any person who attempts to commit an arrest-able offence in his or her view or with whom he or she is reasonable suspects to commit an arrest-able offence.
“This is something in the new Police Act that is being tabled now in the House for the first reading and why there is a public consultation that we insist be done because persons actually wrote me and said they were concerned about the broadness of this part, how does one gauge what is reasonable suspects? And if there is a case of an abuse of this provision, the victim has to have money to hold a lawyer, to go to court to challenge the arrest,” he pointed out.
Immunity for police officers acting under a warrant was another area of contention, he said, adding that persons felt that there were sections that left loopholes for dishonest police officers and severe abuse.
“Another example in the Bill why it is so important for public consultation is in terms of the section that talks about immunity from prosecution for all suits arising from the execution of a warrant. Persons thought that this was very broad and vague and were concerned about the accountability and on top of that persons have written and told me that a police officer should be required to prove that they acted in obedience to the warrant or the order.”
The Territory’s leader then called for persons to become familiar with the contents of the Act.
The Act in question was first brought to the House of Assembly last year when Premier admitted he was pushing for second and third readings when members of his administration, as well as the Opposition, opined that public consultations be had.
“Since then the House was prorogued, and we came back in November 2020, and we brought it back for the first reading and just the last sitting of the House I mentioned that we must have public consultation not only on the Police Act but on all the other Acts that were going to be of need to help further strengthen good governance.”