Activist Rights

Protective Service Officers (PSOs)

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There are more than 1,500[1] PSOs patrolling designated areas, courts and some government buildings. 

When on duty and at these locations, PSO’s can

  • issue fines for offences such as ticket offences, offensive behaviour in public (section 60AA(1A) Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic)) or graffiti offences (section 11(1A & B) Graffiti Prevention Act 2007 (Vic);
  • arrest you if they believe you have broken, or are about to break, the law (section 459 Crimes Act 1958 (Vic));
  • ask for your name and address if they believe you have, or are about to, commit an indictable offence; (section 456AA(1) Crimes Act 1958 (Vic));
  • arrest you if they believe you have a mental illness and have recently tried to hurt yourself or somebody else (section 351(1) Mental Health Act 2014 Vic));
  • search you, your belongings, or your vehicle if they believe you have a weapon (sections 10AA(2), 10GA(1) and 10H(1)) Control of Weapons Act 1990 (Vic)) or have graffiti tools (section 13(1) Graffiti Prevention Act 2007 (Vic));
  • Seize suspected weapons (section 10J(1A) Control of Weapons Act 1990 (Vic))
  • order you to move on if they believe you are breaching the peace, endangering others or are going to damage property; (section 6(1) Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic)) and
  • use reasonable force to prevent to commission of an indictable offence (section 462A Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)).

If you are arrested by a PSO, they must hand you into the custody of a police officer as soon as practicable (section 459(2) Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)).

But, they do have the power to request your name and address and issue a fine if they believe you have broken a public transport offence (for if example they saw you enter the train station without touching on) and it would be an offence to refuse or to give false details.

[1] https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/police-push-for-expanded-pso-powers-to-continue-post-pandemic-20200520-p54uu2.html

Powers are expected to be expanded in the near future to include:

  • An area surrounding a sporting venue;
  • A venue of public entertainment;
  • A place of mass gathering; or
  • Any large area in Victoria.

See: Designated areas for more information about where PSOs can use their powers

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