Published: 04 April 2017
Assoc Prof Randolph Tan: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether police powers can be increased to enable more stringent enforcement to prevent incidents of public disorder at night clubs, bars and similar establishments.
1. Nightclubs, bars and similar nightlife establishments are regulated and licensed by the Police under the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act (PEMA). A key objective of the regulation is to maintain law and order, and public safety at public entertainment establishments. Licensing conditions may include the installation of CCTV cameras, prevention of overcrowding in the premises and obligations on operators to run the establishments responsibly. For example, operators are required to take all appropriate steps to prevent acts of violence and other crimes committed on premises.
2. Police conduct compliance checks to enforce these licensing conditions. Licensees who breach the conditions can be charged under the PEMA and face a fine of up to $10,000 for each infringement. In addition, demerit points are awarded for these infringements. Licensees who accumulate a high number of demerit points will have their licences suspended or revoked. To enforce against errant public entertainment establishments, Police officers are empowered under the Act to enter and inspect establishments, conduct investigations and make arrests.
3. MHA has completed a review of the PEMA, and the Public Entertainments and Meetings (Amendment) Bill was introduced earlier today. The amendments will enhance Police's regulatory levers and powers. We will increase the penalty for providing public entertainment without a licence, strengthen the power to immediately suspend a licence where the licensee has been charged for serious offences committed on the premises, and empower Police officers to use force to enter establishments where they are prevented from entering. These amendments will enable Police to take even more targeted and calibrated enforcement actions to manage the risk of public disorder in such establishments.