A new law banning violent offenders from the controversial entertainment district is due to come into force by the end of the year, but the Washington state government has said it will not release relevant police guidelines.
- Law implements automatic bans of up to five years for violent offenders
- Police can also choose to exclude people for up to six months
- But the weak and disadvantaged may suffer
The bill, passed by the state legislature late last night, creates five “protected entertainment districts” covering much of Northbridge and Perth CBD, Fremantle, Scarborough, Hillarys and Mandurah.
The zone is labeled PEP in honor of nightclub manager Giuseppe “Pep” Laco, who was killed in a one-sided punch attack in Northbridge in 2020.
Under PEP, anyone convicted of a range of violent and sexual offenses, including drinking alcohol, is automatically banned from all precincts for five years after leaving prison.
But there is another power that allows police to ban entry or exit for up to six months for “illegal, anti-social, disorderly, offensive or obscene behaviour.” [or] Intimidating behavior has raised concerns about the potential for unfair targeting of indigenous peoples in particular.
Regulations not yet finalized
More than two months after the law was first announced, Racing and Gaming Minister Tony Buti said that some work still needs to be done before the law comes into force and that it will be done by the end of the year. said he hopes to be
That work includes finalizing the regulations to provide details on the law, including specific areas that will be PEPs.
Washington State Police are also required to provide officers with guidelines on how their powers will be used, but that information will not be made public.
“They are operational issues that the police deal with, and not all operational issues are public,” Bhuti said.
“They are strict guidelines, [and] The Police Commissioner is confident that guidelines can be developed to ensure police know when to act. ”
The exercise of powers is reviewed after three years by an independent parliamentary committee.
Mr Buti said the law would help reduce violence in the precincts and make people feel safer.
“There is no guarantee that there will be no further activities that should not be conducted in these areas,” he told ABC Radio Perth.
“But we see this as another tool we can use in our arsenal to ensure that police can police our entertainment districts in a proper manner.”
Concerned Aboriginal Legal Services
Among those who criticized the law was Peter Collins of the Aboriginal Legal Service, who said it was “absolutely certain” that Aboriginal people would be unfairly affected.
“The only thing police have to monitor is disorderly conduct or the ability to cause public disturbance,” he told ABC Radio Perth.
“This means that if you’re drunk and swearing at the police, it could justify an eviction order for six months.”
Bhuti said that in such instances, the problem may not be just the person yelling.
“If the screaming was done in a very threatening way, there is no reason why the person should not be dealt with by the police,” he said.
“This is all about excluding someone from the precinct, which is prohibited. This is not a penalty, not a crime per se.
“The overall purpose of this law is to allow people to enjoy the hospitality and vibrancy of the entertainment district and to prevent violent behavior.”
Fear of “no protection” for vulnerable people
When the bill passed parliament, only two politicians voted against it — Cannabis Legalization Party’s Brian Walker and Green MP Brad Pettit.
Dr. Pettit has proposed a number of amendments to improve security measures on the law, all of which have been rejected by both the government and the opposition.
One of his biggest concerns is that “individual executives [an] Inspectors may exclude any person from an entertainment district for up to six months without judicial oversight or other checks and balances.
“There is a real danger that these laws could affect the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in our communities in ways the laws were not intended to do, but to stop it. There is no safety net for
Concerns ‘misplaced’: Minister
Collins has similar concerns, particularly regarding the use of bans of up to six months for people with substance abuse problems, mental illness and cognitive impairment.
“And they’re exactly the kind of people who come into contact with the police, people who are more likely to behave disorderly in entertainment districts, but they’re also people who live in these entertainment districts,” he said. rice field.
“So how are you going to fight them? People living on the streets who have nowhere else to go if they are removed from Northbridge or Perth’s CBD? Where does the government expect them to live?” do you?”
Buti said many of those concerns were “misplaced.”
“It’s not directed at a specific group of people, it’s directed at the behavior of a specific group of people,” he said.
“It’s colorblind to that degree. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your background is. If you’re engaged in an activity that harms someone, the law applies.”
This law allows people who are barred from entering the PEP for a variety of reasons, including:
- if they live or work there.
- To participate in health or welfare services.
- to go to worship.
- For activities as a union member
- Because of cultural practices or obligations.
If a police officer issues a ban for more than one month, you can apply to the Liquor Licensing Commissioner for review of that decision.