The Andrews Labor Government’s new public order laws to crack down on violent behaviour at protests and public events are now in force.
The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Public Order) Act 2017 commenced yesterday and creates two new offences of affray and violent disorder, and gives police more powers to protect the community.
Under the Labor Government’s reforms, police can direct a person to remove a face covering within a designated area if it is being worn to hide their identity or to stop the effects of capsicum spray.
Police will also be able to direct a person to leave a designated area if they reasonably believe the person intends to commit affray or violent disorder.
The new statutory offences – affray and violent disorder – replaces the common law offences of rout, riot and affray in the Crimes Act 1958.
From today, a person who uses or threatens to use unlawful violence, and whose conduct would cause another person at the scene to be terrified, can be charged with the new statutory offence of affray.
The offence carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and that increases to seven years jail if committed by a person wearing a face covering.
A group of six or more people who use unlawful violence together to cause injury to other people, or to damage property, can now be charged with violent disorder.
The offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, or 15 years in jail if committed by a person wearing a face covering.
Under the changes, local governments are now also required to consult with police when considering any application for a permit that would facilitate a protest.
Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Martin Pakula
“These new laws are designed to stamp out violent behaviour at protests or public events and ensure offenders are held to account.”
“We’re cracking down on cowards who hide behind facemasks at public events, and we’re giving police more powers to keep the community safe.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Police Lisa Neville
“There is no room in Victoria for violence and these new laws send a very strong message that it will not be tolerated on our streets.”
“We are delivering the powers to Victoria Police that they asked for, in order to ensure public events are safe for everyone.”