Disobeying a Police Move on Order

With the rise of climate change protests and the increased attention on violence in entertainment precincts, there has been a spotlight on the Police’s use of the move on order. This Police direction essentially mandates that a person must immediately remove themselves from the public area and remain out of the space for a period of 24 hours.  In this article, we discuss the move on order, your options and implications if you disobey the order.

Direction to move on

Under Victorian laws, a Police Officer or Protective Services Officer (e.g. member of the Australian Federal Police) can give a person a specific direction to leave the public place if they suspect, on reasonable grounds, that the person is breaching, or likely to breach the public peace.[1] The order to move on may also be given if the individual is suspected on reasonable grounds to be endangering or likely to endanger the safety of others or to injure others or cause damage to property.[2] This move on order requires the recipient to move on from the public place and not to return to that place for a period of up to 24 hours.[3]

For example, a ‘move on order’ may be given if the Police reasonably suspect that you are going to initiate violence, supply drugs, or obstruct traffic.

A ‘move on order’ is required to be delivered by the Police Officer or Protective Services orally.[4] Further, the order can only be given to a person who is physically at the public place or in the vicinity of that place at that specific time.[5]

The offence

It is considered to be an offence to contravene the move on direction provided, without reasonable excuse.[6] This means you must not remain at a public place where a ‘move on order’ has been provided by Police or Protective Services Officer.

However, this offence does not apply to an individual who is picketing (a group of persons protesting grievances or discouraging entry to) a place of employment, protesting, demonstrating or speaking about a public issue.[7]

Penalties for disobeying a Police move on order

This offence is not punishable by imprisonment. If found guilty of disobeying a direction to move on, you could be provided with a fine of up to 5 penalty units.[8]

Defences

If you have been charged with contravening a ‘move on order’ by returning to the identified public place, you have several defences available to you, including:

  1. The initial ‘move on order’ was not provided adequately. For example, the officer did not specify the time period of exclusion adequately or was not otherwise clear.
  2. Lawful and reasonable excuse.
  3. The ‘move on order’ was provided whilst you were not at or within the vicinity of the specified public place.
  4. Sudden and extraordinary emergency.

Importantly, an ‘order to move on’ does not apply to anyone protesting, picketing, demonstrating or speaking in a public place.

If you have been charged with contravening a ‘move on order’, consult with an experienced legal practitioner to identify the best defence for your case.

[1] Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) s 6(1)(a).
[2] Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) s 6(1)(b)(c).
[3] Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) s 6(3).
[4] Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) s 6(2).
[5] Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) s 6(4A).
[6] Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) s 6(4).
[7] Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) s 6(5).
[8] Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic) s 6; As at 1 July 2019, the value of 1 penalty unit if $165.22.

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