Police

Our role in the police complaints system includes independently reviewing the way the NSW Police Force (NSWPF) handles complaints about serious misconduct and investigating particular areas of police practice, if it is in the public interest to do so. We check how police handle less serious complaints, and regularly audit the way their complaint-handling processes are working to ensure they are effective and comply with legislative requirements.

We work with police to make sure the complaints system appropriately identifies criminal and serious misconduct and is accessible, credible, flexible and responsive.

Restricted Premises Act search powers and offence provisions

The Ombudsman is required to review the use of additional search powers and new offence provisions in the Restricted Premises Act 1943 until 31 October 2015.

On 1 November 2013, changes to the Restricted Premises Act, intended to help target gun crime and premises used by serious criminals, entered into force. The Supreme Court or District Court can make a declaration under the Act in relation to premises on which proscribed activities take place. Police are empowered to search suspected premises under a warrant and to search declared premises at any time without a warrant.

Police previously had powers to search for alcohol and drugs. After the 2013 amendments, police can also search for firearms, weapons and explosives. New offences were introduced for premises subject to a ‘reputed criminal declaration’, which can be made if ‘reputed criminals’ attend, control or manage the premises. The owner or lessee of such premises commits an offence if a ‘reputed criminal’ attends, controls or manages the premises while the declaration is in force. These offences are punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment and/or a $16,500 fine.

We have published an issues paper which calls for submissions to the review. Download our issues paper here.

We welcome your comments on any matter relating to the search powers and offence provisions under review, not just those raised in the issues paper. We would also like to hear about the personal experiences of people who have been directly affected. We have prepared a template to assist you in preparing your submission. Download it here.

Submissions are due by 2 October 2015. Please send your submission to review@ombo.nsw.gov.au.  

Ombudsman submission to the Review of Police Oversight by Mr Andrew Tink

On 24 June the Ombudsman provided a submission to Mr Andrew Tink for his Review of Police Oversight in NSW.

Our submission responds to the requirement for Mr Tink to provide advice about ‘options for a single civilian oversight model for police in NSW’. We examine the principles underpinning the current model and how it works in practice. We recommend that any proposed changes should be informed by a proper understanding of the benefits and risks associated with such a change. Our submission highlights the urgent need for new laws to remedy significant gaps in the current arrangements for oversighting police investigations into critical incidents and also explains the need to update complaint handling provisions in the Police Act 1990. Download our submission here.

Police use of Firearms Prohibition Order search powers

We are currently scrutinising police use of new search without warrant powers and are calling from submissions from the public.

In November 2013, amendments made to the Firearms Act 1996 provided police in New South Wales with new search powers to enforce a Firearms Prohibition Order (FPO). The new search powers allow police to search (without a warrant) any person subject to an FPO and any premises or vehicle that the person occupies, controls or manages. The powers were introduced to help police find firearms and related items (such as a firearm part or ammunition) that the person is prohibited from having. Police can conduct an FPO search at any time, as long as the search is ‘reasonably required’ to determine whether the person has committed an offence by using a firearm, or by acquiring or possessing a firearm, a firearm part or ammunition.

We have released an issues paper which provides information on police use of the FPO search powers in the first ten months of operation. Download our issues paper here.

We welcome your comments about the topics discussed in the paper and on any other aspects of the powers and their operation. In particular, we seek information about the personal experiences of people who have been directly affected by the FPO search powers. We have prepared a template to assist you in preparing your submission.
Download it here.

Submissions are due by 31 August 2015. Please send your submission to review@ombo.nsw.gov.au

Police providing name and place of duty

Police officers are required to provide their name and place of duty when they exercise certain powers such as arrest and search. Changes introduced in November 2014 mean that, even where an officer fails to provide this information, their use of the power will still be valid in most circumstances. The Ombudsman commenced a review of police compliance with this requirement on 1 November 2014. We would like to hear your views and have published an information sheet to invite submissions. Download our invitation for public submissions here.

Use of the new consorting provisions by NSW Police

On 9 April 2012 the NSW consorting laws were updated. The new provisions make it an indictable offence, punishable by up to three years imprisonment, to habitually consort with convicted offenders after being warned by police.

Anyone can be warned or charged with consorting. Consorting includes face to face contact and other means of communication such as electronic media. The provisions are being used by the NSW Police Force to address organised criminal activity and local crime issues.

Download our issues paper here. In it, we outline the main issues emerging from the use of the new consorting provisions in their first 12 months of operation.

We are currently preparing our final report for the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police. The Attorney General will table our report in Parliament as soon as practicable after receiving it.

At the end of the review we will report our findings to the Attorney General and to the Commissioner of Police. The Attorney General will table our report in Parliament as soon as practicable after he receives it.

Investigation into allegations concerning officers of the NSW Police Force, NSW Crime Commission and Police Integrity Commission.

The Ombudsman has received and has been referred a significant number of complaints about the conduct of officers of the NSW Police Force, the NSW Crime Commission and the Police Integrity Commission in relation to a number of investigations, including Operations Mascot, Florida and associated matters. These complaints make allegations about a wide range of serious misconduct that has occurred over a significant period of time.

The Ombudsman has decided that it is in the public interest to directly and independently investigate these allegations. The investigation is to be identified as ‘Operation Prospect’.

Click here to access a fact sheet about Operation Prospect, or contact us at prospect@ombo.nsw.gov.au or by telephone 02 9286 1015.