In what some might consider a gross infringement on civil liberties, NSW Premier Gladys Berejikilian announced the new powers will apply to individuals who have previously been convicted of a serious drug offence.
This is the latest drug-related controversy for the Berejikilian Government, which has been extensively criticised for its opposition to pill testing and what is colloquially referred to as its ‘just says no’ attitude towards illegal drug use.
The powers will enable police to make an application for a Drug Supply Prohibition Order for any individual who has been convicted of a serious drug offence within the last 10 years.
A Drug Supply Prohibition Order will allow police to search “the homes, vehicles and person” of convicted drug dealers “at any time and without a warrant”, boasted a statement released on the Liberal Party’s website over the weekend.
Once the order is made, it will stay in place for two years.
According to Premier Berejikilian, the object of the powers is to uncover prohibited drugs, drug paraphernalia, drug pre-cursors or evidence of drug supply or manufacturing activities. Police Minister Troy Grant outlined that the new powers would be designed to target drug dealers, particularly those distributing ice and heroin.
The powers will be introduced in the Hunter Valley under a two-year pilot program.
The program will also be rolled out within the Bankstown, Coffs-Clarence and Orana Mid-Western police commands.
The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) has criticised the proposed legislation, asserting that the powers present an “unacceptable risk of being abused”.
NSW CCL President, Pauline Wright, has further condemned the Government’s proposition:
“The Courts act as a check on the possible abuse of the enormous powers that we give to the police.
Applying for a court warrant is not a complicated process. It can be done over the phone.
If there is a reasonable basis for a search, the courts will grant the warrant. If the police can’t show a reasonable basis for a warrant, then it shouldn’t be granted.”
These concerns have been echoed across the state. There is a real risk that powers such as these could be applied broadly and utilised as a mechanism for harassment.
If you believe you have been subjected to an illegal police search, or require advice or representation for a criminal matter, contact Hamilton Janke Lawyers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 4038 1666 (office hours) or 0422 050 502 (24/7).