Street watch: New powers for dealing with offenders a boon

CONTINUING with the theme of how things have changed over the past 30 years of policing, another new matter introduced by WAPOL is the ability to infringe offenders for stealing and disorderly conduct.

When I first commenced as a police officer it was standard practice to arrest offenders for these offences. As of August 3, 2015, WA Police now have the power to infringe baddies for these same offences.

For shoplifting matters, if a baddie has stolen goods totalling less than $500, they may receive an infringement notice for the amount of $500. I say may receive an infringement, because ultimately the attending officer can still use their discretion to determine the most appropriate option given the circumstances.

The same goes for disorderly conduct offences where offenders may face an infringement of $500 for acting in a disorderly manner in public or in a police station or lock-up. To be eligible to receive an infringement in either of the scenarios an offender must be aged more than 17 years old and the offence must be a single offence, not multiple prescribed offences. Once the payment of the infringement has been received the baddie is absolved of the offence and no criminal conviction is recorded against them, much like a traffic infringement.

It is all about policing smarter and ensuring police aren�t tied up with administrative paperwork and it also lessens the load shouldered by the Magistrates Courts around the state. Change is good if it means less paperwork.