Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 April 2008) . . Page.. 720 ..
their toolbox for dealing with situations. At the moment they are very competent at dealing with situations and defusing situations. They are very good at making a judgement as to whether something should proceed to court or not. But they are in a dilemma with some incidents that should be responded to more strongly than just giving a verbal warning on the spot but that do not warrant activity in court. I believe those incidents are being missed. So there is a benefit to the community.
There is a benefit to the police. If you know that there is the ability to be given an on-the-spot fine if people do not respond appropriately, it gives the police that extra tool in the toolbox of law enforcement to be able to make sure that the community is safe. There is a benefit for the legal system. The legal system does not get cluttered with inappropriate activity when the police believe that something should happen but, at the moment, have only the option to take it to court.
There is a benefit to the individual involved. With an on-the-spot fine, they do not receive a criminal conviction for a moment of stupidity or silliness when they are quite young and still somewhat immature. At the moment, they either get a verbal warning or they get nothing—they are let free—or they actually end up in court. If a conviction occurs, that is on their record for a long time.
We should be making sure that we have choices about the way that we approach these offences. If, as Mr Corbell contends, they are serious and should be dealt with in court, the police will take them to court. They will make that judgement on what they have seen and heard and what they have seen and heard in other systems.
I would like to put on the record that I have a great belief in the judgement of our police officers and in their training to carry out their duty—apparently unlike the government. I believe that Mr Corbell’s bill goes about 30 per cent of the way. It is interesting to see the Johnny-come-lately approach and the me-tooism in this case. Mr Stefaniak has talked about this approach for some time and is to be commended for it. I commend Mr Stefaniak’s bill to the Assembly and ask members, particularly the government, to reconsider their stance of not including the offences of fighting in a public place and offensive behaviour. It is important to have them included in the on-the-spot fine regime, because, I believe, it will lead to a safer city in the long run.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services (11.37), in reply: The Crimes Amendment Bill 2008 amends a series of acts to allow for the service of infringement notices for minor offences. It is a considered, measured and proportionate response to some of the issues currently facing the Canberra community. I foreshadow that in the detail stage I will be moving a minor consequential amendment to the Children and Young People Act 1999.
The development of strategies to address concerns associated with public order requires a nuanced and considered response that draws from the store of tactics that are most likely to have the desired effect. The government is seeking to deal with this issue in a holistic way. The bill is but one element of this holistic approach. The core of this approach is the provision of funding to ACT Policing for 107 additional police officers since 2004 and the introduction of the community policing strategy.