Law does not address real issues: Razi

Speaking at a WA Law Society event earlier this month, Mr Razi said it was doubtful the Prohibited Behaviour Orders Act 2010 had reduced anti-social behaviour in the State and had instead cut off those in need from accessing key support services in the city.

‘Perth CBD and Northbridge’s urban architecture are the only stable places for sleeping rough (and) very few homeless support agencies are located outside of (these areas),’ Mr Razi said.

‘At its heart, the PBO Act targets the most vulnerable to push them out of communal urban spaces.’

The Act, which is currently under review by the State Government, was introduced in 2010, the same year the UK abolished its Anti-Social Behaviour Orders which the WA legislation was based on after the orders were found to be ineffective in reducing anti-social behaviour.

A PBO imposes restrictions on a person aged 16 and over, who could face imprisonment if breached, and allows for the person’s identity and restrictions to be published on a State Government website, where there are currently 43 people listed.

Last year the Aboriginal Legal Service’s caseload included 59 PBO applications of which 18 were resolved, 41 remained unresolved as of the end of 2013, 10 were granted by the court or consented to, five were withdrawn and two respondents died.

Acting Police Minister John Day said the PBO legislation had been an effective and important tool for police to disrupt anti-social behaviour by repeat offenders.

‘The legislation does not target a particular group of people.’ Mr Day said.

‘It provides respite to the community from anti-social individuals who cause trouble in particular areas.’

Speaking at the same Law Society event, Acting Assistant Commissioner for Judicial Services Lawrence Panaia said PBOs and Move on Notices did not prevent issues, they just changed the outcome of the conviction.

‘I’ve seen more legislative change in the last 10 years than in my entire career,’ Mr Panaia said.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Hall said homeless people were overrepresented in the criminal justice system as both offenders and victims.

‘The criminal justice system is being used to solve a problem, which is a social problem,’ Justice Hall said.

Street Law Centre principal solicitor Ann-Margaret Walsh said homeless people were often overwhelmed with the urgency of finding food and shelter, which made attending appointments and court appearances a secondary concern.

Details
The Aboriginal Legal Services of WA caseload of PBO respondents in 2013:
– The average age of a respondent was
37 years old.
– 73 per cent were male.
– 63 per cent were prevented from entering
areas of the Perth CBD, Northbridge
or East Perth.
– 56 per cent were homeless.
– 27.7 per cent were in prison.
– 93.2 per cent were receiving welfare.
– 36.1 per cent were illiterate.
– 65.3 per cent had mental health issues.
– 52.3 per cent had some kind of cognitive
impairment.
– 70.5 per cent had physical health issues.
– 96.2 per cent had substance abuse issues.