Police in Canberra will be able
to declare a crime scene on private property for six hours
without a warrant if its occupants refuse to cooperate, under
draft laws introduced into the ACT Legislative Assembly on
It will also
be a crime to shoot at a building, even if it is empty, under
the bill to address outlaw motorcycle gang violence in the
ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay
said the new police powers would "disrupt" bikie activity in
Canberra, after a recent string of shootings and firebombings in the
The laws come after a judge
found two Comancheros accused of peppering a rival bikie's empty
house with bullets not guilty, citing a lack of evidence after a
trial that also did not feature the alleged victim.
They also come after police were
unable to get a search warrant in time to stop tradesmen clearing
away evidence at a home where a drive-by shooting allegedly
occurred, and where the victim refused to cooperate with police.
The ACT Law Society and ACT Bar
Society criticised the proposed laws as "fundamentally re-drawing
the relationship between citizens and the police in the ACT" because
the government wanted to be "seen" doing something about bikies.
Mr Ramsay said there would be
safeguards in place to ensure the new crime scene powers were not
gratuitously used by police.
There would be a higher offence
threshold for establishing a crime scene on private property and
could only be used if there was an urgent need to protect or
Police would also have to take
reasonable steps to get permission from the owner of the property
and could only declare a crime scene for as long as it took to
secure the evidence, with a limit of six hours.
Officers could only use the power
once in a 24-hour period, and could not use "rolling" crime scenes
in lieu of a warrant.
In cases where the occupants will
have to leave their home because of the crime scene, police may have
to offer them shelter in one of the "soft" interview rooms at the
Where there are children in the
house, police must take care not to traumatise them.
Police will be allowed to re-enter
the crime scene, at the risk of evidence loss, to retrieve items
that children need like shoes, warm clothes or a teddy bear.
Mr Ramsay said the laws were
"necessary and effective".
Police minister Mick Gentleman
foreshadowed further laws to prevent criminal gang activity,
including firearm prohibition orders.
But the ACT Opposition said the
government was merely "tinkering around the edges".
The Canberra Liberals will also
table its controversial anti-consorting laws this week.
Legal affairs spokesman Jeremy
Hanson accused Labor and the Greens of "protecting" criminal gangs.
"We cannot wait for a tragedy when
prevention is available to us right now," Mr Hanson said.
"The most recent attack saw one
person shot, bullets fired into a home with children inside, and
reports of a small girl using a garden hose to put out cars that had
been firebombed by attacking bikies.
"This is the latest in at least
eight attacks this year, each one getting more and more violent."
The Liberals bill would allow the
Chief Police Officer to apply to the Supreme Court to have certain
organisations branded as criminal.
She could then nominate the
members of that association to a public register. Those members
would be barred from meeting with each other.
Mr Hanson said there would be
exceptions, for family members and for events like weddings and
People could also appeal to have
their name taken off the register.
Mr Hanson said his laws had been
changed after speaking with the ACT Human Rights Commission and
would no longer prevent people on the register from taking part in
certain professions. The court instead would have the discretion to
However Mr Gentleman said he was
yet to see any evidence that the Liberals' bill would comply with
the ACT's human rights laws.
Mr Hanson said he was less
concerned about the human rights of "violence criminals" than
But Unions ACT secretary Alex
White said he was concerned the laws could be used to target
"The police already have more than
enough powers to act against organised crime and outlaw motorcycle
gangs," Mr White said.
"Ironically, Mr Hanson's federal
Liberal colleagues are diverting AFP resources away from
investigating serious organised crime by staging unnecessary,
politicised and potentially unlawful raids on union offices."