(QldGovSpin) Spence reforms vagrants legislation

Submitted by Editor on Tue, 28/09/2004 - 19:21

The Minister for Police and Corrective Services, Judy Spence, is moving to repeal antiquated vagrants legislation and replace it with a modern bill that reflects community standards and will help police intervene to prevent serious crime.

Police & Corrective Services, Judy Spence


Ms Spence said many offences in the Vagrants, Gaming and Other Offences Act 1931 would be thrown out, with others updated and included in the new Summary Offences Bill 2004, to be introduced into State Parliament this week.

"The old Vagrants Act - like the term itself - is outdated, based on obsolete English laws dating from the 1700s," Ms Spence said.

"Some of these provisions are unjust in today's society, while others are phrased in language that belongs in the horse and carriage era and need to be incorporated into modern offences.

"Police can't even remember the last time anyone was prosecuted for offences like:

* Being found in a coach-house, stable or outhouse;

* Walking outside the home at night wearing felt or other slippers, or possessing a dark lantern, electric torch or silent matches; or

* Pretending to tell fortunes."

Ms Spence said the Summary Offences Bill 2004 will help police tackle lower level offences before they lead to more serious crimes, preserve good public order and protect vulnerable members of our community from the likes of confidence tricksters who prey upon them.

"The Beattie Government has recognised the need for pre-emptive offences, allowing our police to take action to stop more serious crimes being committed," Ms Spence said.

"Under this new Bill, police will be able to charge people who don't have a reasonable explanation for possessing an implement that could be or has been used in a burglary, theft of or from a vehicle, assault or damage to property. For instance, a lock pick, an electronic car door lock scanner or a jemmy bar.

"Until now it has only been an offence to possess an implement that could be used for a house break-in."

Ms Spence said also under the new Bill:

* Trespassing without permission on private property will be toughened to include business premises;

* Unlawfully entering farming land is a new offence to offer protection against unauthorised shooters or other trespassers;

* High-risk activities like parachuting, hang-gliding and base-jumping from a building or structure remain illegal, unless it is a purpose-built structure or the person has permission to perform a stunt for a movie or television production;

* Wilful exposure is still an offence; along with

* Begging or encouraging a child to beg;

* Being drunk in a public place will be retained;

* As will selling or providing harmful substances if there is a suspicion it will be ingested or inhaled; while

* Piercing the genitals or nipples of a child, or tattooing a minor, also remains illegal.

"Anyone who fraudulently seeks to obtain money or another benefit - for instance from vulnerable people like seniors, by collecting money under the pretence that it will be given to charity or promising to do work in return for an up-front payment - faces prosecution too, " Ms Spence said.

Ms Spence said she expects the Vagrants, Gaming and Other Offences Act 1931 to be repealed and replaced with the Summary Offences Act 2004 by early next year.

Media contact: 3239 6218 or 0439 673287



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