For the past three years the state government has been trialling infringement notices for selected summary and one indictable offence. These are:
- offensive behaviour and indecent language under s 17 of the Summary Offences Act 1966;
- liquor-related offences: consume, supply or possess liquor on unlicensed premises under s 113(1) of the Liquor Control Reform Act 1999;
- permit the consumption, supply or possession of liquor on unlicensed premises under s 113(1B) of the Liquor Control Reform Act 1999;
- failure by a drunk, quarrelsome or violent person to leave licensed premises when requested under s 114(2) of the Liquor Control Reform Act 1999;
- permitting or allowing the unauthorised consumption of liquor on a party bus under s 113A of the Liquor Control Reform Act 1999;
- wilful damage of up to $500 under s 9 of the Summary Offences Act 1966; and
- shop theft of goods valued at up to $600 under s 74A of the Crimes Act 1958.
The provisions were due to sunset at the middle of this year, unless extended. This legislation will extend the exisitng provisions for another year.
While the other offences will carry on indefinitely, clauses 5 and 6 drop shoptheft and wilful damage from the list of infringeable offences after 1 July 2012. The EM says, “Further legislation would need to be passed by the Government before that date to enable the offence to be enforced by infringement notice in future.”
During the Second Reading speech for this Bill the Attorney-General said,
Instead of making these offences infringeable on an ongoing basis, the bill extends the trial period for these two offences. This is because evaluation indicates that further experience is needed and further consideration needs to be given to the impact of using infringement notices for these offences before it can finally be determined whether their ongoing use is appropriate. These were the most complex offences in the trial, with shop theft involving elements of dishonesty and wilful damage involving a range of potential victims.
In the case of shop theft, more work needs to be done on understanding offending patterns and the consequences of issuing infringement notices. The data from the trial suggests that people receiving shop theft infringements are repeat offenders with a wide spectrum of offences on their record. Further evaluation will include the views of key stakeholders and the impact of expiated shop theft offences not going on a person’s criminal record. In the case of wilful damage, more work needs to be done to determine whether the needs and rights of the victim of the damage are being taken into account as they should be when the infringements process is used.