Arrow paying for police: the legals

This is what the actual legislation (according to Austlii) and police force policies (according to Qld and NSW police force documents) say about arrangements such as the one where Arrow paid for police officers to be present at the community blockade site in Kerry (which I will refer to for brevity as the “Arrow paid the police”, or “APthP” arrangement).

Briefly, I could find nothing in the legislation or police policies of NSW or Qld to prevent business interests paying for policing of protests against that business’s activities.  I think it’s fair to say that if an arrangement such as APthP is in a corporation’s interest, and there is no legal impediment, then they are likely to pursue the arrangement when it suits them.

So as it stands, we can probably look forward to more APthP arrangements in both Qld and NSW.

Here is the fine print:

Queensland

In Qld, the APthP arrangement is known as “Special Services”.  The Qld Police Service Administration Act 1990 (Section 10.16) is entitled “Charges for police services” and states in part:

“(1)  A person for whom prescribed police services are provided is liable for payment to the commissioner of charges for those services in an amount determined by the commissioner.”

There appears to be no place in which the term “prescribed police services” is defined.  (Can anyone correct me?)  However, a document entitled “Southern Region Policy and Standing Operational Procedure: Special Services Arrangements” has an associated application form which asks whether the service required is a “wide load, road closure or special event”.

I’m assuming APtheP would be classed as a “special event”.  I have no problem with police selling their services for oversized vehicles or road works.  I also have no problem with organisers paying police to attend special sporting or entertainment events.  What does concern me is that there appears to be nothing to stop mining companies, under this legislation, paying for police attendance at peaceful assemblies that are objecting to the mining company’s activities.  This is why it concerns me.

New South Wales

In NSW, the arrangement is called “user-pays”  or “the user charges scheme” and is apparently governed by

Section 208 of the Police Act 1990 is entitled “Charges payable for attendance at sporting events, escorts and other services” and states in part:

(1) If a member of the NSW Police Force (whether or not in compliance with any law):

(a) attends a sporting or entertainment event, at the request of the person conducting or organising that event, for the purpose of maintaining order

(b) provides, at the request of a person, an escort for a vehicle or trailer carrying a long or wide load, or

(c) provides any information to a person, at the person’s request, in respect of a visa application,

the Commissioner is entitled to demand payment by the person of such amount as may be prescribed by the regulations or, if no amount is so prescribed, of such amount as the Commissioner thinks fit.

This wording appears to limit the “special events” that police can be paid to attend in NSW.   That is, they can only accept payment for attendance at sporting and entertainment events – not community protests.  However, a document available from the NSW Police website entitled  “NSW Police Force: Cost Recovery and User Charges Policy May 2010” lists the types of services available on a user-pays basis.  These include:

“Special events – crowd and traffic control, public order [my italics throughout]- these services may be provided for events such as sporting and entertainment events, including fairs, film and stage premieres, exhibitions and agricultural shows, whether at closed venues or stadiums, or open events such as on road cycling events and fun runs, or outdoor concerts.”

“Vehicle and pedestrian traffic management services – provided where police powers are exercised to promote public safety for exclusive use and benefit of the owner or transport contractor, including film shoots, wide load and other vehicle escorts, crane operations, traffic signal maintenance, road closures and building sites.”

“Supplementary policing services – is an arrangement where a client requests additional policing services in a designated location (eg. markets, commercial shopping centres) and contributes to the cost of providing those additional policing services. The service is provided by police officers who would not otherwise be rostered for duty. The supplementary policing services should not involve static guard duty.”

“Other services – NSW Police Force provides a number of other services on a cost recovery basis including:

  • Mounted Police
  • Water Police
  • Aviation services
  • Dog Units”

“Other miscellaneous services – this policy also covers any other services provided by the NSW Police Force where it is appropriate to apply the cost recovery principles as set out in the provisions above.”

These advertised services appear to leave several avenues wide open for mining companies to pay for police to attend a peaceful community protest.

So I went and looked at the other legislation that according to this police document, governs user-pays police services.

Police Regulation 2008Clause 134 is entitled “Fees and charges payable to Commissioner under section 208”.  It doesn’t put any limitations on APthP arrangements either.  Nor does Section 8 of the NSW Police Act 1990.

I could find no impediment anywhere to an APthP arrangement occurring in NSW.  I’d like to be shown wrong here, so if anyone has any more information, please comment.

This is why I’d like to be shown wrong.

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