Melbourne, June 16 (ANI): Queensland's police have now been given the power to issue on-the-spot notices for public nuisance offences, and it means that a person can be fined 100 dollars if caught swearing in public.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the move would increase efficiency, save time and fast-track more important matters in the courts by stopping minor public nuisance offenders from clogging the justice system.
She said the measures, targeting offences such as public urination, disorderly conduct and abusive language, would save the Government between 18 million dollars and 30 million dollars.
The power to issue on-the-spot fines of between 100 dollars and 300 dollars could result in public nuisance prosecutions soaring 20 percent, based on figures from a 12-month trial in South Brisbane and Townsville.
Bligh said it was hard to estimate if the 20 percent increase would hold true right across the state.
She attributed it to police having more time "on the beat" because the on-the-spot powers saved hours compared to the time spent processing an arrest.
But an evaluation of the trial by Griffith University said evidence existed that, given on-the-spot powers, police were more likely to issue tickets in situations unlikely to be considered criminal before the courts.
The NSW Ombudsman said the problem particularly concerned police fining people for swearing.
"The words spoken would not be considered offensive if the matter was to be determined by a court," News.com.au quoted it as stating.
Queensland Council of Civil Liberties president Michael Cope said the powers were a concern when it came to offensive language and would see public nuisance offence rates soar.
"This will become the thing police just slap on someone whenever they aren't happy," Cope said.
"No one will fight them and ultimately people who are homeless or young will bear the brunt of this," he added.
Trial figures showed 1 percent of those charged had appealed.
Police Minister Neil Roberts said inappropriate behaviour in public places was not acceptable and would not be tolerated.
The legislation will be introduced to Parliament later this year, with the new powers to take effect by 2011. (ANI)