28 August 2014 - An Independent Police Conduct Authority review has found that Police are working to ensure officers called upon to deal with out of control gatherings in future are better trained to deal with the situations they may face.
Independent Police Conduct Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers said the Authority conducted its review after receiving an increasing number of complaints involving incidents where Police closed down parties.
“The Authority reviewed eight cases that occurred over a five-year period from July 2009 – June 2014 and examined issues relating to the extent of the Police’s legal powers, the reasons why Police decided to close down parties, and the methods used to clear partygoers.
“The review found that Police usually decided to close down parties due to complaints of fighting or disorder, and they regularly encountered verbal abuse and bottle-throwing from partygoers.
“The Authority recognises that Police are often confronted with difficult situations when called to deal with noisy and out of control parties in suburban areas,” Sir David said.
“These parties are typically attended by a large number of intoxicated young people, and it is common for fights to break out and for property damage to occur.”
However a number of cases reviewed by the Authority showed that the Police officers involved misunderstood their legal powers to enter property and remove partygoers. In some instances Police exceeded their authority by closing down parties without obtaining consent from the occupier of the property.
In light of this review and earlier investigations by the Authority, Police developed a new public order policing policy which was implemented in December 2013. The policy includes a chapter dedicated to ‘Out of Control Gatherings’ which clearly sets out the limitations of Police powers in respect of parties on private property.
Police have advised the Authority that they are currently developing a training framework for the new policy, and are investigating the possibility of creating a national website where people can register their parties.
“The Authority acknowledges the extremely constructive way in which Police have engaged with the Authority on this matter,” Sir David said.
In releasing its report the Authority recommends that Police consider an expanded prevention focus in dealing with out of control parties. This would include a more systematic district monitoring of social media to identify upcoming parties so that Police, in conjunction with partner agencies when appropriate, could engage with the hosts in advance to provide advice on host responsibility and reduce the risk of problems arising.