Published: 03 September 2019
Mr Christopher de Souza: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs what legal tools are present to deter the taking of video or camera footage of police officers, or officers from security agencies, who are attending to a crisis or security threat, especially where taking of such footage interferes with the officers' ability to de-escalate the threat and secure public safety.
1. Taking videos or pictures of law enforcement officers conducting security operations can interfere with and jeopardise the operations, endangering the safety of the public and our officers.
2. Under ordinary circumstances, the Public Order Act (POA) empowers law enforcement officers to direct a specific person to stop taking or sharing films or pictures of ongoing operations. Failing to comply is an offence which carries a punishment of up to one year imprisonment, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.
3. For serious incidents that could cause mass public disorder, such as terrorist attacks, the Public Order and Safety (Special Powers) Act (POSSPA) provides Police with special powers to exert further control over communications. Under POSSPA, the Commissioner of Police can issue a Communications Stop Order (CSO). It bans the taking or sharing of films, pictures, texts, or audio messages of the entire declared incident area. Unlike the powers provided for in the POA, this order does not need to be directed towards any specific individual, but bans all persons. Offenders that breach the CSO are liable to two years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.
4. These special powers are not available in day-to-day operations and need to be activated by the Minister for Home Affairs before they can be used.