WestCONnex Protest School notes

Thanks to all who came to our WestCONnex Protest School on Saturday 27 February to learn about police powers and your legal rights during nonviolent direct actions. Here are the notes from the day, kindly provided by our presenter, Jane Sanders of Shopfront Youth Legal Centre.

WestCONnex Protest School

Protests and police powers

 

Protest authorised (Summary Offences Act s23 or s26)

Protest “prohibited” (Summary Offences Act s25) or not authorised

“Move-on” direction (Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act  Part 14)

No (if protest is apparently genuine)

No (if protest is apparently genuine)

Emergency public disorder powers (Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act Part 6A)

Yes (but powers must be authorised at senior level, and only if there is “large scale public disorder”)

Yes (but powers must be authorised at senior level, and only if there is “large scale public disorder”)

Criminal Infringement Notice for offences under Crimes Act or Summary Offences Act (eg obstructing traffic, offensive language, offensive conduct, stealing)

No (if protest is apparently genuine)

No (if protest is apparently genuine)

Ordinary infringement notice for offences under other Acts and Regulations (eg obstructing traffic under Road Rules rule 236, offences under Passenger Transport Regulations,  Local Government Act, etc)

No for obstructing traffic, but Yes for other offences

Yes

Court attendance notice for obstructing traffic (including vehicles, vessels, pedestrians)

No

Yes

Court attendance notice for unlawful assembly

No

Possibly (but only if violence or intimidation involved)

Court attendance notice for other offences

Yes

Yes

Arrest for purpose of issuing court attendance notice

Yes (but arrest is a last resort)

Yes (but arrest is a last resort)

Arrest or other action to stop a breach of peace (ie imminent threat of violence or property damage)

Yes (but arrest is a last resort)

Yes (but arrest is a last resort)

Physical removal from the scene (if trespassing on private property, doing unauthorised activities in areas covered by special legislation, or breach of peace)

Yes (but usually only after refusing to leave when directed)

Yes (but usually only after refusing to leave when directed) 

More information

Protesting and the law

See the NSW Parliamentary Research Service Briefing Paper No 7/2015 on Protests and the Law in NSW.

General resources about police powers and criminal law

There are resources about police powers and criminal law on The Shopfront Youth Legal Centre website.

See in particular the following fact sheets from Shopfront:

Get involved

Contact us about working with your local WestCONnex Action Group to help stop WestCONnex.

About this information

The Shopfront Youth Legal Centre is a service provided by Herbert Smith Freehills, in association with Mission Australia and The Salvation Army.

This document was last updated in February 2016 and to the best of our knowledge is an accurate summary of the law in New South Wales at that time.

This document provides a summary only of the subject matter covered, without the assumption of a duty of care. The summary should not be relied on as a substitute for legal or other professional advice.

This document may be photocopied and distributed, or forwarded by email, on the condition that the entire document is reproduced in its entirety and no fee is charged for its distribution.


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