Letter: Proposed increased police powers will only do more harm

The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties has serious concerns with respect to the recently announced “wanding” laws set to be introduced in New South Wales.

We understand that these laws would allow New South Wales police officers (of all ranks) to approach members of the public and to subject them to a search (without reasonable suspicion) under the guise that they may be carrying a knife.

We are concerned that the expansion of police powers will result in young people from low socioeconomic regions, particularly those from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities (CALD), First Nations communities and people without fixed address, being subject to increased surveillance, harassment and intervention. It may also lead to an increase in people being charged for drug possession and other public order offences. We do not believe that these laws will have the same impact on communities in more affluent areas of Sydney and will disproportionately impact already vulnerable communities with poor relationships with the police.

These laws do not reflect the policies that the NSW Labor Government promised the public prior to the election, particularly around drug law reform and civil liberties.  With knife crime rates declining, and the penalty already having increased, as one of the first actions of the Minns government after the election last year, there is no reason for further action. Proactive policing does not serve as a deterrent for crime, nor does criminalisation and increased penalties.

The people of New South Wales deserve to have their government invest in evidence based, frontline youth services and community-led initiatives that strike at the heart of crime prevention, mental health illness and are centred on strengthening social cohesion and our civil liberties.

Read our letter to the NSW Attorney General here.