LAWYERS of Western Australia have expressed their consternation over the proposed extension of police powers and the inevitable consequences of changes to stop and search laws.
The state's Law Society has expressed its concerns in its submission on the Criminal Investigation Amendment Bill 2009 to the Standing Committee on Legislation (Legislative Council) and has also requested the opportunity to appear before the Committee to give evidence in support of the submission.
“Giving police the power to conduct searches on people and their vehicles without requiring them to have any suspicion that an offence has been committed will result in thousands of completely law abiding citizens being inconvenienced and having their privacy violated,” said Society president Hylton Quail.
Late last year, as the laws were being debated in Parliament, the Law Society labelled them "a gross erosion of our civil liberties".
“What’s worse is that the government has not made a case for the need for such draconian laws. Police already have very wide search powers targeted at criminal activity and there has been no credible evidence that their existing powers are inadequate," said Quail this week.
“Aspects of this Bill have the hallmarks of laws usually found in a police state and people’s rights as citizens in a free society will be significantly eroded if Parliament does not reject these proposals.”
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