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Should Australia's police-imposed public area banning powers be subject to independent oversight and review?

journal contribution
posted on 2019-09-01, 00:00 authored by Clare FarmerClare Farmer
Introduction and Aims: Jurisdictions across Australia have implemented policies to tackle problems associated with alcohol consumption in and around licensed premises. Patron banning is one measure which has become increasingly popular. Discretionary police-imposed bans can exclude recipients from expansive public areas for extended periods of time. Concern has been expressed regarding the potential for bans to be imposed inappropriately or unfairly and their capacity to undermine due process. This article examines an aspect of police-imposed banning that has received little attention, the general absence of options for independent or judicial review of the imposition of a ban. Design and Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with Magistrates in Victoria. Key themes are examined with reference to Victoria's published police banning data, parliamentary debates and other relevant literature. Results: The findings draw attention to issues of procedural fairness, the risk of misuse and consequential effects for police legitimacy arising from the operation of discretionary police-imposed bans. Discussion and Conclusions: The Victorian Parliament dismissed the option of an independent post-hoc appeal process for police-imposed bans. The discretionary nature of police bans, the absence of meaningful oversight and the attendant potential for their misuse point to the need for the legislation covering police bans to be revised to introduce an independent process of review. This issue extends beyond Victoria, as six of the eight Australian jurisdictions do not permit any independent review of a police decision to impose a public area ban.



Drug and alcohol review






630 - 638


John Wiley & Sons


Chichester, Eng.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2019, Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs