Media Statement: NSW Police should not dictate NSW Government Policy

The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties is concerned about media reporting alleging that NSW Police are lobbying the State Government to introduce new laws that would create criminal offences for the parents of minors found with weapons, including knives.

BOSCAR data indicates that knife crime has declined in New South Wales over recent consecutive years. The position of NSW police does not reflect the current research on the prevention of crime. We strongly urge the State Government to resist populist calls for legislative change that will not make our communities safer.

The Council urges all levels of Government to invest in our public mental health care system, public mental health supports and resources (including in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities). This includes committing to a date for the proposed ‘whole of government’ Drug Summit, which remains one of the unfulfilled election promises to the people in New South Wales that could meaningfully impact weapons related crime.

Comments from Lydia Shelly, President, NSW Council for Civil Liberties

The Council is deeply concerned by reports today that NSW police are lobbying the State Government to introduce criminal offences targetting parents of minors who have been charged with criminal offences involving the use of knives.

The position of NSW police demonstrates just how out of touch they are with the communities they are tasked to police. Charging parents on the basis that their child has committed an offence oversimplifies the intricate circumstances surrounding children who have contact with the criminal justice system.

The stance reportedly taken by NSW police poses significant risks to children. Parents facing criminal charges and a possible conviction may jeopardise their employment opportunities, destabilise their housing situation, and potentially disrupt their ability to maintain custody of their children.

The Government’s primary focus should be to strengthen families, not push for laws that will fracture communities. These antiquated ideas ignore the complex circumstances of families where children have had contact with the criminal justice system. It ignores the known vulnerabilities contributing to youth crime including exposure to drug use and poor mental health.

The NSW Government should prioritise organising the Drug Summit the Premier has committed to. The Drug Summit is an opportunity to recast the problematic use of drugs as a matter of public health policy with whole of government implications. We urgently need to work on whole of government responses that will prevent children from entering the criminal justice system in the first place.

Parents of children who have been charged with a criminal offence do not deserve to be demonised by the media, the NSW Police or the NSW Government.

We call upon the New Government to commit to strengthen families in NSW and support calls not to tear them apart. For the NSW police to demonise parents of children who have been accused of criminal offences will only further marginalise families who require our support.