Page 5386 - Week 14 - Thursday, 30 November 2017

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confiscate their assets. This commitment is evidenced by the recent creation of a new offence of drive-by shooting and the introduction of crime scene powers to add to the suite of laws already available in the ACT to address serious and organised crime. The fortification removal laws introduced by this bill will further enhance the government’s suite of law reform in this area.

Fortifications are structures or devices designed to stop or hinder uninvited entry to a property. This bill strengthens traditional law enforcement mechanisms by providing our police with greater capacity to access fortified properties to execute search warrants and obtain evidence of serious crime in the territory.

Law enforcement agencies across Australia, including in the ACT, have reported the use of fortifications by outlaw motorcycle gangs, more appropriately known as criminal gangs, and other criminal groups to frustrate the execution of search warrants by police. If an occupier of a fortified property denies police access to the property, police may find it difficult to enter the property using traditional methods of forced entry.

The bill makes amendments to the Crimes Act 1900 to introduce a fortification removal scheme in the ACT. It authorises the Chief Police Officer to apply to the Magistrates Court for an order directing the occupier of premises to remove a fortification constructed on the premises. This is a proactive step to assist police to access a property in the future to investigate crime effectively.

The bill defines a fortification as a structure, device or other thing, or a combination of structures, devices or other things, that forms part of, or is attached to, the premises if the thing or the combination of things exceeds what is reasonably necessary to provide security for the ordinary lawful use of the premises and either prevents uninvited entry to the premises or part of the premises or would be considered by a reasonable person to be intended or designed to prevent uninvited entry to the premises or part of the premises.

This definition ensures that the bill targets only premises which have been fortified for the purpose of preventing police access. The safety of our community is paramount. The bill will not prevent Canberrans from installing reasonable security measures to protect the safety of their home or commercial premises.

A fortification removal order will prescribe a period of time for the occupier to comply with the order. The occupier must comply with the order within three months after the day the order starts or, if the order states another day, by that stated day. This provides ACT Policing and the occupier with the opportunity to present evidence to the court about the amount of time the occupier should have to comply with the order. For example, the court may be satisfied that a short time frame is necessary as the fortification poses a great safety risk. A longer time frame may be required if the court considers that the removal of the fortification will be time consuming and difficult.

The fortification removal scheme is designed to assist ACT Policing to investigate serious and organised criminal activity. It is not limited to the activities of criminal

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