ROUGH SLEEPERS — MOVE-ON NOTICES
351. Hon ALISON XAMON to the minister representing the
Minister for Police:
I refer to reports about rough
sleepers being issued move-on notices by the Western Australia Police Force
during the COVID-19 emergency.
(1) How many move-on notices have
been issued by police to rough sleepers since 16 March 2020?
(2) What guidance, if any, have police been given
regarding the use of move-on notices during the COVID-19 pandemic?
(3) When police
issue move-on notices to rough sleepers, do they make efforts to ensure that
the person given a move-on notice has somewhere safe to go?
(4) Are police
undertaking any work with either the Department of Communities or community
sector organisations to address the issue of rough sleepers during the
Hon STEPHEN DAWSON
I thank the honourable member for
some notice of the question. The following answer has been provided to me by
the Minister for Police.
The Western Australia Police Force
advises that homelessness is not an offence and police address offending and
antisocial behaviour involving homeless people. The broader aim of police is to
assist homeless people to access support services.
(1) Police do not
record move-on notices issued specifically to homeless people. Homeless people
could be given move-on notices for any
number of reasons similar to other members of the community, understanding
that it is not an offence to be homeless.
(2) Under the
state of emergency direction for the COVID-19 pandemic, a person must not
organise or attend a mass gathering. A mass gathering is defined as a gathering
of 500 or more persons in a single undivided outdoor space; a gathering of 100
or more persons in a single undivided indoor space; or a gathering of two or
more persons in a single undivided outdoor space where there is not at least
four square metres of space for each person
at that gathering. For example, a gathering of 10 persons in a single undivided
outdoor space at the same time is a mass gathering if the space is not
at least 40 square metres in area. Police observing and attending to any breach
of this direction assess the situation and attempt to identify a person in
control or with authority in the location, and instruct the person and any
person in attendance that they are breaching the mass gathering direction and
that they are required to cease the gathering and disperse immediately. Should
the breach of the direction immediately cease, no further action is taken.
Police may consider the use of move-on
orders, notices, under the Criminal Investigation Act 2006 in the first
instance or issuance of an infringement for the breach of direction.
The policing response to homeless
people or ''rough sleepers'' has not varied as a result of the
declaration of the state of emergency, with
the exception being the requirement for social distancing. Police continue to
work jointly with local government authorities, the Department of Communities
and key non-government organisation outreach
services. Interagency meetings are coordinated between police, local government
and NGOs with respect to a joint response to issues arising from homeless,
rough sleepers and street-present people.
(3) When police engage with rough sleepers or the
homeless, formal and informal referrals to service providers are
generally offered. Police have close working relationships with non�government
organisations that are assisting homeless
people. Unfortunately, on many occasions offers of assistance are declined by
rough sleepers and homeless people.
(4) Western Australia's ''10-Year
Strategy on Homelessness 2020–30'' led by the Department of
Communities provides a guide for government agencies to coordinate the
issue of homelessness. The WA Police Force was involved in the development of
the strategy and its ongoing work.