The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) has condemned the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s plan to give police powers to search people’s homes and cars without warrants.
The new powers, as reported in the Daily Telegraph, would allow police to seek court authorisation to permit searches for prohibited drugs and drug paraphernalia in a person’s home or car during a two year period. These powers would operate on a pilot basis across four police commands, including Bankstown, Coffs-Clarence, Hunter Valley and Orana Mid-Western police districts. They are intended to target drug offenders.
NSW CCL President Pauline Wright said “The Courts act as a check on the possible abuse of the enormous powers that we give to the police. If there is a reasonable basis for a search, the courts will grant the warrant. If the police can’t show a reasonable basis for a warrant, then it shouldn’t be granted. These new powers are not needed, and offer an unacceptable prospect of being abused.”
“The standard processes for getting a warrant exist to protect us from being harassed in our own homes. They exist so that we can go about our ordinary business free from unreasonable interference by the police. Applying for a court warrant is not a complicated process. It can be done over the phone. It is the job of the courts to ensure that drug dealers are held to account if they continue to engage in drug-related crimes.”
“Whilst these powers are claimed to target drug suppliers, they are likely to have unintended consequences, and to be applied much more broadly. Searches without warrants can be used as a mechanism for harassment. We know that the people most likely to suffer from these kinds of incursions are the vulnerable - young people, Aboriginal people, other racial and ethnic minorities, and people with cognitive impairment. These powers will not target the drug bosses.”
Contacts in relation to this statement.
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