POLICE — SELF-ISOLATION
284. Hon ROBIN SCOTT to the minister representing the
Minister for Police:
I have been contacted by a number of
constituents in my electorate, saying that known persons who have tested
positive to COVID-19 are breaching self-isolation protocols and when police are
notified, no action is being taken.
(1) Do WA Police Force officers have powers to deal
with people who willingly breach self-isolation protocols; and, if not,
(2) If yes to
(1), why would reports of offending behaviour not be acted upon?
(3) How is the minister balancing the need to protect
police officers from positive cases with the need to protect the
community by having police officers physically detain offenders?
STEPHEN DAWSON replied:
I thank the honourable member for
some notice of the question. The following answer has been provided to me by
the Minister for Police.
(2) They are being acted on.
(3) In response
to the COVID-19 pandemic, a state of emergency has been declared in Western Australia,
pursuant to the Emergency Management Act 2005. The effect of this declaration
is that various powers under the EMA are enlivened, which the Commissioner of
Police may exercise as the State Emergency Coordinator to manage the emergency.
The state of emergency declaration provides the SEC with powers to direct
members of the community to remain in their homes. The WA Police Force advises
that the SEC has authorised all police officer as authorised officers under the
EMA, which empowers them to enforce the commissioner's decisions. To
that end, police officers are checking that community members are complying
with any directions, and have laid charges for breaches. Within the WA Police
Force, teams of COVID-19 assurance vehicles have been established, and the WA
Police Force advises that these teams are
equipped with necessary personal protective equipment. Other police vehicles
equipped with PPE may be dispatched, and in regional Western Australia,
local police tasking despatch operators will obtain information from the
COVID-19 assurance desk before local police are equipped with PPE and deployed
to complete inquiries.
I thank all our police officers and
police staff for their outstanding commitment and service to our community in
these challenging, indeed unprecedented, times as we combat the COVID-19
pandemic. Amendments to the Criminal Code
being introduced today send the strong message that COVID-19-related
assaults on, and threats to, our police officers and other essential frontline
staff must not be tolerated. The McGowan government is also introducing
legislation to bring in $1 000 on-the-spot fines for individuals and $5 000
fines for businesses who disobey any directions issued under the EMA. Penalties
of up to $50 000 for individuals still apply
under the EMA; however, the on-the-spot fines will allow police officers
to issue fines immediately, without having
to go through the courts. The government calls on all community members
to do the right thing, rather than face any fines.