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Public drunkenness laws should be abolished

Public drunkenness laws should be abolished

By LIV Media


Abolishing public drunkenness laws will help protect vulnerable members of our community, according to the Law Institute of Victoria.

LIV President Sam Pandya said the LIV has long supported moves to abolish the relevant provisions of the Summary Offences Act 1966 which provide that it is an offence to be drunk in a public place, even if no disorderly or disruptive behaviour is proved.

“Public drunkenness requires a health response, not a criminal justice response,” Mr Pandya said.

“Many inquiries including Royal Commissions have found that public drunkenness laws have a disproportionate effect on Indigenous Australians, and their arrest for these offences can result in their death,” Mr Pandya said.

The LIV has recommended to the government that legislation decriminalising public drunkenness should place a duty on police officers to consider and use alternatives to police cells, including the option of taking the intoxicated person home or using community services.

It is also recommended that the law reform should be accompanied by adequately funded programs to establish and maintain non-custodial facilities for the care and treatment of intoxicated people.

Mr Pandya said it was premature of the Police Association to claim that police might “do nothing” if proposed laws “water down their powers”.

He said while the Government had announced it would introduce legislation before the end of the year, it had also committed to a 24-month implementation period. This will allow for further consultation with police, communities and the legal profession about the proposed reforms.

Victoria and Queensland are the only Australian jurisdictions that have failed to implement the recommendation to abolish the offence contained in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991.


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