Following successful trials in both South Brisbane and Townsville, there has been a change to the way Queensland Police can deal with public nuisance offences. At the police officers’ discretion they are now able to issue an Infringement Notice for certain public nuisance offences. Therefore there will be no requirement for the person to attend court, and if they pay the fine there will be no criminal conviction recorded.
The ability for police officers to issue an Infringement Notice provides an additional option for these minor good order offences. It will also place less demand on the court system and the police.
Public Nuisance Offences for which an Infringement Notice can be issued
The types of offences in which police can use their discretion to issue an Infringement Notice include:
- public nuisance
- public urination
- obstructing a police office, and
- contravening a requirement of police officer.
If an Infringement Notice is to be issued for the offence of obstructing a police officer, it must be in relation to a public nuisance or public urination offence. The contravention requirement arises if you do not provide police with your correct name and address when being questioned about a public nuisance or public urination offence.
Public nuisance offences may include:
- disorderly behaviour
- offensive behaviour
- threatening behaviour, or
- the use of bad language.
These are not new offences and are still governed by the Summary Offences Act 2005. All that has changed is that the police have been given a new way to deal with these specific offences.
Options available if Infringement Notice is issued
If you receive an Infringement Notice for a public nuisance offence then you will also receive a Public Nuisance Ticket Information Sheet. The information sheet outlines the options available to you in regard to payment, and provides information on court diversion programs and community support networks.
If you disagree with the Infringement Notice you can still elect for the matter to go to court, and you can have your case heard in front of a Magistrate. If you are unsuccessful, though, there is the risk that a conviction may be recorded by the Court. Otherwise, payment needs to be made within 28 days of receiving the Infringement Notice.
If the fine is greater than $200, you can apply to pay by instalments. You can do this by completing the instalment section on the back of the Infringement Notice, and the fine will be registered with the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER).
Court diversion programs and support networks
The Public Nuisance Ticket Information Sheet provides information on court diversion programs and support networks, as quite often the public nuisance offence stems from underlying issues that people may want to address.
Alcohol dependency and housing issues seem to be the most common of these problems. If either of these apply to you, if you elect for your matter to go to court, you may want to apply to participate in the Special Circumstances Court Diversion Program. This program is designed to assist:
- those dealing with homelessness, or
- those whose decision-making capacity is impaired as a result of mental illness,
- those who have an intellectual disability, or
- those with a cognitive impairment.
If you are indigenous and alcohol is an issue which affects you, then you may choose to participate in the Queensland Indigenous Alcohol Diversion Program (QIADP).
If you need assistance with homelessness you can also contact the Homeless Persons Information Queensland (HPIQ) which offers a state wide information and referral service.