WA ‘Stop-and-search’ laws defeated — for now

November 20, 2010
A bill to give WA police stop-and-search powers is unlikely to be passed.

Western Australia’s proposed “stop-and-search” laws look dead in the water after the National Party opposed the bill on November 11.

The proposed laws were to expand WA police powers to search people without having to provide grounds for suspicion. The laws would also allow the police minister to declare areas in which police had the power to arbitrarily stop and search people.

Member of the Legislative Council and Nationals WA president Colin Holt told the November 11 : “I think it’s been very clear from the report that came out from 159 hours of work through the (Upper House) committee that there is really no need for this Bill.”

The Nationals said this despite police minister Rob Johnson offering amendments to water down the bill, such as shortening the sunset clause from five years to two years and restricting the length of time an area could be declared as open to “stop-and-search” to four hours.

Johnson said “hysteria and misinformation” stopped the bill. Civil liberties groups had rallied against the laws, including a 200-strong demonstration on April 10.

WA Law Society president Dudley Stow said in November 2009: “WA’s stop and search laws are already some of the widest-reaching in the country, and far exceed most other western nations’ laws.”

Stow said too many arbitrary searches were already taking place; greater police powers would only make this worse.

There is evidence that the movement may need to continue to fight against these laws.

“I don’t think stop-and-search will ever be dead”, Johnson said. “It’s been killed off for the moment, so it’s been stalled — that’s the way I look at it.”


why was the bill defeated?

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