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VIC Police can't pull over vehicles without reason

Discussion in 'Politics, Laws, Government & Insurance' started by razorcat, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. I would anticipate that this may have massive ramifications for those road blocks and licence checks that specifically target riders...although time will tell I guess.


    Police power to stop cars under threat

    June 21, 2013
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    Vince Chadwick

    Magistrate Duncan Reynolds ruled police do not have 'an unfettered right to stop or detain a person and seek identification'. Photo: Craig Abraham

    A Melbourne magistrate has ruled that police cannot pull over vehicles without a reason in a case that has reignited questions of racial profiling by law enforcement. Police have long relied on section 59 of the Road Safety Act to stop motorists at random to check licences, registration and for outstanding warrants. Section 59 states that a driver is required to stop their car, produce their licence for inspection and state their name and address ''if requested or signalled to do so by a member of the police force''.
    Photo: Magnus Kaba.

    But the magistrate, Duncan Reynolds, ruled on Thursday that the law did not give police ''an unfettered right to stop or detain a person and seek identification details''.

    Magnus Kaba, 21, from the Ivory Coast, was a passenger in a car stopped by police in Ascot Vale in April 2012 as part of a random routine intercept. Mr Kaba has been charged with a number of offences including assault after an altercation when one of the police officers asked to search the car.

    Mr Reynolds ruled that the evidence of the police officers was inadmissible because it had been unlawful to stop the car without cause. ''Their conduct, in my opinion, unjustifiably breached the right to freedom of movement for Kaba and the driver,'' he said.

    Police had also arbitrarily detained the men contrary to the Victorian Charter of Human Rights, he said. The case has been adjourned until July 24.

    Mr Kaba's solicitor, Tamar Hopkins, of the Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre, said: ''Many people from African backgrounds, for example, have reported to us that they have been subject to routine intercepts by police where there is no underlying basis for the stop.
    ''As well as interfering with rights, routine intercepts are a practice that is open to abuse.''

    Liberty Victoria president Jane Dixon, SC, said the magistrate had interpreted section 59 ''in a new light within the framework of the Charter of Human Rights. It will be interesting to see whether the prosecution appeal this decision.''

    If police appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court, the case may set a precedent under Victorian law. A police spokeswoman said: ''This matter is still currently before the courts and Victoria Police will consider its options.''

    Mr Reynolds' ruling does not affect the ability of police to conduct random breath tests, which has its own statutory power.

    Mr Kaba is one of six young African men who claimed in a separate case that they were subjected to racial profiling by police in Flemington and North Melbourne between 2005 and 2009. Police settled the case for a confidential sum in February this year.
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  2. as much as i dislike police abuse of powers, and as much as im going to sound like a racist bastard out of this.... I hope the previous case was paid for ot of the money received from the police, cause there seems to be a reverse race descrimination rule applied to who gets legal aid and it sounds like these guys use the system a lot.
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  3. all it will mean is now they will find (READ: MAKE UP) an excuse to pull you over
  4. I don't think grants of Legal Aid or being eligible to have representation by other CLC's has anything to do with racism.. It's just a means tested criteria which if you meet and there is no other conflict you can get representation.

    There is, however, a huge problem (in my opinion) in access to justice for middle-of-the-road people who are earning enough as to be above the means test yet private legal representation is unaffordable. At the moment it's really only the very rich and the very poor who don't get screwed over when it comes to going to court.
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  5. All it means is that this asinine ruling in by a petty officer will be challenged in a higher court and overturned as quickly as it was made.
    As for being arbitrarily pulled over, breath tested, licence checked, roadworthy-checked, what's the big deal?
  6. #6 toadcat, Jun 21, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2013
    The problem is, for certain people, these are simply used as an excuse to harass and intimidate and sidestep other legal requirements for stops and searches

    NSW Police use it a lot. RBT's are not always 'random' and they seem to have GREAT noses in smelling cannabis which never actually seems to be found inside the vehicles they search, despite using that as grounds for reasonable suspicion...
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  7. I don't have anything other than my own experience to go on in that sort of area, but I appreciate that the Police might have all sorts of reasons to pull vehicles over. The TV shows we see often show them pulling over a vehicle just for a broken tail-light, or the like, and finding a whole host of other illegalities with the car and with the driver/passengers. I can't believe that this doesn't happen a lot..... Equally we read every day of people being booked for some offence or other while they are driving/riding suspended, disqualified, etc....
    I don't think any form of discrimination is fair, but the curtailment of the Police powers to search and investigate will only give comfort and encouragement to the (seeming) many who have something to hide.....)
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  8. Magistrate's ruling means diddly as precedent cannot be set in a magistrates court.
    The higher courts can only set a precedent.
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  9. #9 mainstage, Jun 21, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2013
    If they can still pull your over for a RBT then this in the excuses vicpol will use . Could bring to an end the license check excuse .

    Remember the police operations around the Yarra valley .a team of vicpol setup at the side of the road pulling over riders only for a 'license ' check . So your pulled over because

    " quote We are targeting riders " I'm told this opration will be back in spring time .

    @smee agree .we would need a change in the law
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  10. They're still quite useful, a lot of the decisions on offensive language are judgments made by LCM's.. When/if it does go to the District or even Supreme Court - that is where the big value will come from
  11. This guy was a Passenger in the car, if you acknowledge police rights to stop the car and get identification etc from the driver this power does not extend to the passengers. There is the "reasonable suspicion" test but police tend to push that boundary.

    They would be foolish to appeal and run the risk of setting a precedent in a higher court.
  12. I doubt it, they wouldn't chance it becoming law. That said, toadcat is right, magistrates are free to use prior judgements to influence their decision - however, they are also free not too.
    The presumption of guilt is the big deal.

    My bet is that if it passed through supreme court, government would be pushing through an exemption to the human rights charter with respect to police powers within a fortnight.
  13. The presumption of guilt is the big deal.
    There is no presumption of guilt in an RBT; it is a test to see if people are over a legal limit. Many more people drive away than get arrested. If you don't test for all possibilities you have no chance of finding offenders, surely?
  14. Fantastic news and glad to hear it.

  15. I don't drink. I have a licence. My vehicles are always kept roadworthy. I have substantially better things to do than talk to the police if I have not broken a law.
  16. #16 Ljiljan, Jun 21, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2013
    This is not an rbt. This was detaining a person and seeking identification details. The ruling does not affect the ability of police to conduct random breath tests, which has its own statutory power.

    Like I said, if it became a precedent (which they would be incredibly stupid to try), there would be another statutory exemption to give them more power within weeks.
  17. Fair point, but you can't really argue an RBT because it does get those under the influence off the roads. However I wish the police we're more polite and educated when going over our bikes. I do respect the police and I always have, however the ones who have dollar bill signs in their eyes are the ones that don't belong in the job in the first place.
  18. SPDY B meet grue. Grue, meet spdy b.
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  19. This is what a free country looks like;

    Compared to here, its a world of difference, imagine if you tried to pull that shit at your next RBT.

    I dont get randomly hassled on my bike too much, in fact only one copper has ever commented about my bikes roadworthyness (my bike appears to be a complete written off mess covered in scrapes and holes and dents etc, so thats pretty good) he was at an rbt however, something brought in 'just' to test for alcohol.

    Anyway, the random lebbo checks are pretty bullshit, i drive a subi impreza, holy shit the number of times i get pulled over are ridiculous sometimes. I remember in 5 days over Christmas a few years ago i got pulled over 7 times at random for a lebbo check in my local area by my local coppers. I cracked the shitties at one of the cops by the 7th time and the local cops have left me alone mostly since then.

    A fun game you can play is drive past the cops wearing a polo with the collar popped a nike dry fit hat and see how long you last before you get pulled over.

    profiling , racial or otherwise, is a part of human nature and life, no amount of court rulings etc will change that.
  20. The "RBTs get those under the influence" argument is a bit weak. What percentage of drivers pulled over for RBT are over the limit? There-in lies the problem. Hornet himself said "Many more people drive away than get arrested", yet he has no problem with being subjected to the "test".