Friday, April 07, 2006

Move On Or Else!

Ican see these new police "move on" expansion powers causing greif in the near future. Along with the move to hold parents accountable for their kids underage drinking, and gate crashing parties. The Police Minister says the move-on powers are used, and will be used, only in cases where people are causing trouble. But the legislation clearly states police can ask a person to move on purely because they are causing another person to feel anxious. HHmmmm If I feel anxious because the person I share my bus stop with is Middle Eastern in appearance, I can express this to the nearest police officer and that person can be asked to move on. If I feel anxious about the group amassing in the park for my neighbour's birthday barbecue, they can be asked to move on.
Nowhere in the legislation does it state that the anxiety needs to be justified. Racist, ageist and sexist feelings have never had such strong legislative backing. And it is the vulnerable people in our society who suffer most.
It is a basic notion in any civilised society that (to quote Spider-Man's alter-ego, Peter Parker) with great power comes great responsibility. The Police Minister has vowed to review the statewide legislation once it has been up and running for 18 months.
Under the law, police must give a reason for their move-on direction, and heed any reasonable excuse given for the behaviour that led to police intervention in the first place.
Under the law, the police direction must be reasonable and not interfere with a person's right to general assembly.
The only way to test the order is to ignore it, get into a bingle over it and be charged with an offence.
Now for some worrying points: under present law, police are bound to record when and where a move-on direction was given and to whom, the reason for it and the apparent demographic category of the person.
With all of this information being recorded, one would presume that information on move-on orders should be reasonably easy to access. But apparently there is no one keeper of the keys to this information.
The minister's office does not know if or where it is stashed and the Queensland Police Service could shed no more light on it, except to say that the data may be kept in a log at each station. As a result, no one has the big picture. The safeguard that was put in place to ensure everyone is dealt with fairly is next to useless.
The Police Minister denies that move-on powers unfairly target society's vulnerable people. But the figures show almost two thirds of people charged with public nuisance offences are young people. And two thirds of those young people charged live in poverty or are homeless.
If a person gets moved on and they have no home, where do they go? Who has the duty of care if they have been cast out of their safety zones?
If you ask vulnerable people to move on, surely you must also properly equip and fund the places to which they can go. To me it's common sense.

till next time, Michelle.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home