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You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases Media releases — 2 July 2007 – 16 June 2008 CMC reviews public nuisance offence in Queensland — 23.05.2008
You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases Media releases — 2 July 2007 – 16 June 2008 CMC reviews public nuisance offence in Queensland — 23.05.2008
You are here: Home News and media CMC media releases Media releases — 2 July 2007 – 16 June 2008 CMC reviews public nuisance offence in Queensland — 23.05.2008

CMC reviews public nuisance offence in Queensland — 23.05.2008

A Crime and Misconduct Commission review of Queensland’s new public nuisance offence has found that while there has been little change in its impact on marginalised groups in the community, the new law is being used increasingly to manage the behaviour of intoxicated ‘party people’.

Research led by the former CMC Director of Research and Prevention, Susan Johnson, found that ‘street people’ such as the homeless, the mentally ill, young people and Indigenous people appear to be still over-represented, but this does not seem to have been exacerbated by the introduction of the new offence.

‘Some groups had expressed concerns during our review that the law would lead to an increase in the over-representation of disadvantaged people and that police would ‘over use’ the provision; however, findings from this review don’t support that.

‘On the contrary, the picture that emerged was that the main focus of the offence was dealing with ‘party people – that is mainly young men who have consumed alcohol on licensed premises,’ Ms Johnson said.

‘Our research shows there has been an increase in offending on licensed premises and businesses, and a decrease in offences in recreational areas such as parks.

‘Police are clearly relying on the public nuisance offence when dealing with people affected by alcohol. This focus has strengthened over time in response to social and political ‘signals’.

‘On balance, therefore, we believe that Queensland’s public nuisance laws are being used fairly and effectively, in the sense that police are taking action to respond to growing community concerns about anti-social behaviour, especially where alcohol is involved,’ Ms Johnson said.

‘However, we do acknowledge that ‘street people’ are still over-represented when it comes to public nuisance offences and there is a continuing need to monitor police use of this law, especially in relation to more minor offending.

‘The public nuisance offence is a highly discretionary tool, so there will always be some contentious issues associated with it. The CMC has made recommendations to improve some areas of concern,’ Ms Johnson said.

‘For example, we have recommended changes to the legislation so that the use of the public nuisance offence for offensive language can be monitored in accordance with recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.’

Currently, it is very difficult to determine how often people are arrested solely for offensive language.

Other CMC recommendations include:
• a separate offence of public urination which is not titled ‘wilful exposure’
• the QPS reinforce the message that de-escalation and prevention are guiding principles when dealing with public nuisance offences
• ‘ticketing’ be introduced as another option available to police to deal with public nuisance behaviour rather than proceeding through the courts
• the need for a government, community and business partnership along with the police to address underlying causes of public nuisance offending.

The Commission’s findings are contained in a report - Policing public order: a review of the public nuisance offence - tabled in state parliament today.

Queensland’s public nuisance offence was introduced in April 2004, replacing an earlier offence of offensive language and behaviour under the Vagrants, Gaming and Other Offences Act 1931. The CMC was required by law to conduct a review of the use of the public nuisance offence commencing 18 months after it came into effect.

The CMC will have the opportunity to again consider public order issues having recently begun its review of police use of move-on powers as required by section 49 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000.


Media inquiries:
Karen Crook or Leanne Hardyman
Ph:  07 3360 6344     Mobile:  0407 373 803     Fax:  3360 6235

Last updated: 07 December 2011

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