By Mitchell Clarke
Victoria Police has confirmed Protective Service Officers (PSOs) may have been acting without legislative authority, in some circumstances, when arresting people on ‘fail to appear at court’ warrants.
In a bid to ensure that persons wanted by the court are still being arrested, police officers are now being deployed to railway stations to support PSOs.
It’s believed the interim measures will remain in place for a number of weeks while legislative changes are developed.
Acting Deputy Commissioner Bob Hill Regional Operations said PSOs do an “exceptional job” keeping people safe on the public transport system.
“The issue we have identified relates to a very small percentage of the total arrests made by PSOs, as few as one or two a day. It was an issue created in the drafting of the original legislation which supported the inception of the PSO Transit Policing Model in 2011,” A/DC Hill said.
“We are working on a fix with the state government to ensure our PSOs continue to have the powers they need.
“In the interim, we have additional transit police deployed supporting their PSO colleagues on the transport system.”
Mr Hill said that if people are wanted on warrant and are engaged by PSOs and police, they will be arrested.
Victoria Police confirm that in the past, PSOs have routinely arrested people on fail to appear warrants since their expansion onto the public transport network in 2011, under provisions within the Magistrates Court Act.
It’s believed approximately 500 arrests of this nature were carried out in the last year, yet the majority of these warrants were addressed in a way which only allowed police officers to carry out the arrest.
“It’s important to appreciate, the majority of the 500 arrest warrants executed last year involved persons being lawfully arrested by PSOs who witnessed the commission of other criminal offending,” A/DC Hill said.
“The issue we are dealing with is limited to the rare occasions when PSOs are making arrests solely because they have identified a person as being wanted on a warrant, and some of those warrants are currently addressed to exclude PSOs.”