Can Police ask for Your ID in NSW? Know Your Rights

Image credit: Rose Makin

Poppy Morandin and Jimmy Singh.

 

NSW Police have announced that they intend on asking citizens to produce identification, following the latest tightening of restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The latest health order prohibits residents from the Sydney metropolitan areas of Fairfield, Liverpool, Canterbury-Bankstown, Blacktown, and Cumberland to leave their local government area for the purposes of work, unless they are an authorised worker.

This has been enforced by the Public Health (COVID-19 Temporary Movement and Gathering Restrictions) Order 2021, as amended on 23 July 2021, under the Public Health Act 2010.

As a starting point, as per schedule 1 of the order, there are 16 reasonable excuses for Greater Sydney residents to leave home. They include:

  1. Obtaining food and services for household purposes.
  2. For the purposes of work if the person cannot work from the person’s place of residence.
  3. For education purposes if the person cannot learn from the person’s place of residence.
  4. For the purposes of attending childcare, including picking up or dropping another person at childcare.
  5. Exercising or outdoor recreation within a person’s LGA or within a 10-kilometre radius (whichever is the greater distance).
  6. Medical care, including obtaining a COVID-19 vaccination.
  7. Attending a funeral.
  8. Moving house or inspecting a potential new place of residence.
  9. Providing care or assistance, including personal care, to a vulnerable person or providing emergency assistance.
  10. Donating blood.
  11. Legal obligations.
  12. Accessing public services, including social and mental health services.
  13. Co-parenting arrangements.
  14. For a person who is a priest, minister of religion or member of a religious order, going to the person’s place of worship or providing pastoral care to another person.
  15. Avoiding injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm.
  16. For emergencies or compassionate reasons, including where two persons are in a relationship but do not necessarily live together.

The ‘reasonable excuses’ apply to those within the relevant local government areas outlined previously, with the exception of the permitted reason to leave home to attend work.

Those within the Fairfield, Liverpool, Canterbury-Bankstown, Blacktown, and Cumberland areas thus must be classified an ‘authorised worker’ if they are to leave the area they live in for work.

Authorised workers include those who work in health care and social assistance, manufacturing, transport, and public administration and safety.

For the purposes of exercise and recreation, the same rules apply to those in the five affected LGAs as the rest of Greater Sydney. This means residents must stay within their LGA or within a 10-kilometre radius of their home, whichever is the greater distance.

Pursuant to section 10 of the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW), the maximum penalty applicable to failing to comply with a public health direction is an $11,000 fine or 6 months imprisonment, or both.

Furthermore, in the event that it was a continuing offence, a further $5,500 for each day the offence continued may be applicable.

For a corporation, this fine grows to $55,000 fine, or in case of the offence continuing, a further $27,500 fine for each day the offence continues.

However, police are also empowered to issue penalty infringement notices of $1,000 to individuals and $5,000 to businesses.

NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Malcolm Lanyon announced that police visibility would be escalated to ensure compliance with the health orders commenting: “That’s important, so we know people are complying with the nature of the health orders. Can I ask people to carry ID and be prepared to present it?”

Greater Sydney residents have also been instructed to carry proof of their address when exercising.

NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said, “police are investigators” and would not hesitate to look into people they suspected of breaking the rules.

“So, if someone provides details, regardless of whether they have a phone, driver’s license or some other card, and police are uncertain or unsure, they will make further inquiries, and of course they can issue that personal infringement notice at any time,” he said.

Can Police ask for ID in NSW?

Part 3 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW), outlines when a person is required to disclose their identity after being approached by police.

Pursuant to section 11(1), a police officer may require a person to disclose their identity if it is suspected on reasonable grounds that the person may be able to assist in the investigation of an alleged indictable (serious) offence, because they were in the vicinity of the alleged incident.

Furthermore, an officer may require a person to disclose their identity if the officer proposes to give a direction to the person in accordance with Part 14 for the person to leave a place (‘a move on direction’).

An individual is required to reveal their identity in all of these situations, and failure to do so, or providing a false name or address, can result in a fine of up to $220, pursuant to section 12 and 13 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW).

Other situations where the police can require you to provide your name and address include:

  • When you are driving a car and are suspected of committing a traffic offence or refuse a breath test;
  • When you are suspected of committing an offence on a train or railway property;
  • If police suspect that an Apprehended Violence Order has been made against you;
  • If you are under 18 and suspected of consuming alcohol in public, and
  • When you have been placed under arrest.

If a police officer asks for your name and address, they should generally tell you why they are asking for that information, advise you of the consequences of failing to comply with their request, and if they are in plain clothes, produce identification to prove that they are a police officer.

Currently, with the pandemic lockdown and public health orders, police are permitted to direct a person to provide his/her name and address if the police officer suspects that they are in breach of the coronavirus lockdown orders. The power that allows police to do this is found in section 112 of the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW).

Failure to comply with this direction attracts a hefty maximum penalty in court of $5,500, according to section 113 of the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW). In the case of providing police with false information, the maximum penalty is an $11,000 fine, and/or 6-months jail. This occurs if the police issue you a court attendance notice also known as a charge requiring you to then attend court to answer it.

Police may instead of issuing you a charge, issue you with an on-the-spot fine or penalty notice fine of $1,000 for this offence. This penalty notice for corporations is $5,000.

Questions? Get in touch with our experienced criminal lawyers today.

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