Restricted Premises Act: Review of police use of firearms search powers and new offence provisions

ISBN 978-1-925061-98-7
Category Reports and submissions
Publication Date 7 November 2016

Summary

In 2016, the Ombudsman completed a review of amendments made to the Restricted Premises Act to help target gun crime and premises used by serious criminals. The amendments introduced offences that can be committed by owners and occupiers of declared premises and   powers to search for firearms on declared premises without a warrant.

A court can make a declaration under the Act in relation to certain premises where prohibited activities take place. Police can search these premises under a warrant, and declared premises at any time without a warrant.  Police previously had the power to search for alcohol and drugs. After the amendments, they can also search for firearms, weapons and explosives. 

Our report found that the amendments have not enhanced police‚Äôs ability to disrupt OMCGs or detect firearms.  Police did not obtain any restricted premises declarations, conduct searches without warrant or lay charges for any of the new offences during the review period.

Our report also found that police did obtain warrants under the new provisions of the Act to search seven suspected OMCG clubhouses, however those searches could have been done under the old provisions.  Our report outlines concerns about the way in which the seven searches were executed.

Our report recommends amendments to the legislation to provide police with specific powers to manage the risks associated with potentially dangerous premise searches and also proposes that police clarify their powers to seize certain items.

We also published an issues paper during the review, which you can download through this link.

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