State Government committee recommends police child frisk measures

The Courier-Mail | November 11, 2011
By Brooke Baskin

POLICE will be granted the power to frisk teenagers or children for alcohol after a State Government committee recommended the new powers be passed as law. 

The Queensland Police Service pushed for its scope under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act to be widened to include a "pat down'' of young people who were suspected of carrying alcohol in May this year.

A report released by the Legal Affairs, Police, Corrective Services and Emergency Services Committee this afternoon said it supported the motion, so long as police kept a record of all minors who were frisked and pending a review after five years.

The report recommended a review of the "pat down'' powers in 2016, including whether there had been an increase in complaints about the conduct of police to the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

The report comes following public hearings on the new bill at the Parliamentary Annexe on October 4.

At the time, Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett said the proposed "pat down'' powers for minors would involve a police officer of the same sex "quickly running their hands'' over the individual to search for alcohol.

He said the powers were designed to keep young people safe.

"It's the experience of police officers that young people who are drinking unsupervised are at significant risk and more likely to engage in behaviour that is risky or dangerous,'' he said.

But the proposal ran foul of civil libertarians who questioned how effective the powers would be and whether they were too punitive to help prevent underage drinking.

During the public hearings CMC general counsel Rob Hutchings warned the powers could increase allegations against police that were referred to the independent watchdog.

In its submission, the Australian Lawyers Alliance argued underage drinking was a social problem.

"Expanding police powers does not serve to reverse a culture of under-age drinking, but simply encourages teenagers to be more discreet and careful to avoid police,'' it said.