Name and shame legislation wouldn’t work: Quail


Controversial name and shame laws are being considered by state parliament to reduce anti-social behaviour in youths.

The Prohibited Behaviour Orders Bill is based on a British Act introduced by Tony Blair 10 years ago which is now being abandoned.

The Bill would give magistrates the power to impose orders which could ban repeat offenders from associating with identified persons, visiting specific locations and possessing particular items.

Attorney-General Christian Porter is confident that prohibited behaviour orders would make a difference in WA if they became legislation.

“They are designed as a practical mechanism to prevent further offending by enhancing the capacity of the state to restrict and monitor the behaviour of offenders,” Mr Porter told Parliament.

Minor offences attracting the orders would include graffiti, general damage to property, disorderly conduct, hooning and shoplifting.

The specific details of a PBO would be publishable at the court’s discretion and available for public viewing on a government website.

“The purpose of publication is to enable members of the public to report breaches of a PBO to police,”

Mr Porter said.

It is a violation of international human rights law to publicly name a person younger than 18 in relation to a crime.

Corrective Services Shadow Minister Paul Papalia said this international law should not be disregarded.

“The naming and shaming of children is offensive and regressive and will undoubtedly draw condemnation from other nations,” Mr Papalia said.

Law Society of Western Australia president Hylton Quail said the new laws would not benefit communities, as Mr Porter has claimed.

“We fear that naming and shaming will promote vigilante responses,” he said.

The breach of a PBO would be a criminal offence and jail and fines would apply.

Maximum jail terms can be issued where a magistrate feels there is an urgent need to protect the community.

Mr Papalia said the Bill would drag scarce police resources away from serious crime.

“It will not stop the negative behaviour being targeted,” he said.

Britain’s conservative government which came to power in May, abandoned the law after reoffending figures revealed it had not worked.

Mr Quail said he feared a similar consequence for WA.

“For recidivist offenders it’s really going to be a badge of honour,” he said.

Published in the Western Independent October 2010

Categories: Politics

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