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When Can Police Direct a Person to Move On in New South Wales?

A police officer may direct a person who is in a public place to move on if the officer believes on reasonable grounds the person’s behaviour or presence:

1. Is obstructing others or traffic,

2. Is harassing or intimidating others,

3. Is causing or likely to cause fear, or

4. Involves attempting to obtain or supply a prohibited drug.

The direction must be aimed at reducing or eliminating the obstruction, harassment, intimidation or fear or preventing the drug transaction.

Police may also direct a person who is intoxicated in a public place to leave and not return for a specific period if the officer believes on reasonable grounds the person’s behaviour is likely to injure a person or damage property.

Police cannot issue a move on direction relating to an industrial dispute, genuine demonstration or protest, or organised assembly, unless it is necessary to deal with a serious safety risk.

Additional information:

Police must provide their name, place of duty and reason for the exercise of power before issuing a move on direction.

A ‘public place’ is defined as:

  • A place (whether or not covered by water), or part of premises, that is open to the public or is used by the public, whether or not on payment of money or other consideration, whether or not the place or part is ordinarily so open or used and whether or not the public to whom it is open consists only of a limited class of persons, or
  • A road or road related area.

A ‘road related area’ is:

  • an area that divides a road, or
  • a footpath or nature strip adjacent to a road,
  • an area that is open to the public and is designated for use by cyclists or animals, or
  • an area that is not a road and that is open to or used by the public for driving, riding or parking vehicles, or
  • a shoulder of a road, or
  • any other area that is open to or used by the public and that has been declared under section 18 to be an area to which specified provisions of this Act or the statutory rules apply

The maximum penalty for failing or refusing to comply with a move on direction without reasonable excuse is two penalty units, which is $220 at the time of writing

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