CHOGM Special Powers FAQs

CHOGM (Special Powers) Act 2011 and Regulations – Frequently Asked Questions and Important Information

Special Powers

Why were these laws necessary?
To ensure the safety and security of the CHOGM 2011 events, the visiting delegates and the people of Perth, additional legislation was needed.  Security at similar events held in Australia in recent times has been greatly assisted by the introduction of legislation that provides police and other security personnel with additional powers to assist their functions.The 2000 Sydney Olympics, the 2002 Queensland CHOGM, the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and the 2007 Sydney Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Conference are examples of events for which special powers legislation has been enacted.
Weren’t existing laws sufficient?
Existing Western Australian legislation does not provide police with sufficient power to adequately deal with circumstances that might arise during CHOGM 2011.  The Act gives police powers to provide the comprehensive high level of security required for an event such as this attended by world leaders.
During what exact period are they going to apply?
The special powers in the Act apply from midnight, 20 October, 2011 until midnight, 5 November, 2011. After midnight on 4 November, 2011 most parts of the Act will no longer apply and on the 5th of November the bulk of the Act expires.
Will police have access to these powers after CHOGM 2011?
No, they won’t. Police will not have these additional powers after the CHOGM 2011 period concludes and delegates have flown out. CHOGM 2011 will be over by Tuesday 1 November, 2011 but the Government made provision for the powers to extend slightly longer (to 4 November) than was required in case there were some delays with some dignitaries leaving. All the powers expire on the 5th November, 2011.
Can police officers use the CHOGM 2011 powers anywhere and at anytime?
No. The special powers provided by the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Special Powers) Act 2011 apply for the defined CHOGM 2011 period in Restricted Areas and Core Security Areas that are prescribed in regulations and declared or designated by the Commissioner of Police.There is also the power to close roads in and around Security Areas, as well as roads used for conveying people to and from CHOGM 2011 events.  A road closed under this Act can only be used with the permission of police and police have the power to remove vehicles or things from the closed road.

Restricted Areas and Core Security Areas

What is the difference between a Restricted Area and a Core Security Area in terms of public access?
Restricted Areas and Core Security Areas are different. Members of the public will be allowed to go into a Core Security Areaas long as they comply with any conditions of entry, are not carrying prohibited items, are not behaving unlawfully and are complying with the reasonable directions of police.A Restricted Area is an area that only people who have official CHOGM 2011 accreditation can enter for the purposes of attending CHOGM 2011 events. Typically, this will be venues such as the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Where are the Restricted Areas and Core Security Areas?
The areas that have been declared Restricted Areas and Core Security Areas are places being used or accessed for CHOGM 2011 events and include buildings and roads. You can view coloured maps of the Restricted Areas and Core Security Areas on the WA Police Website.
How do I know exactly where the Core Security Area ‘line’ will be? Will it be marked on the road or do I have to go to a website?
Core Security Areas will be physically signposted on the street and on buildings, as will Restricted Areas too. In some areas, such as Kings Park, there might be temporary fencing while in other areas there may be bunting used. A physical barrier such as a wall might form part of a boundary. A great deal of effort has gone into thinking through all these issues to ensure that there won’t be confusion. Maps are available on the WA Police website.
I believe the Commissioner of Police can declare Additional Security Areas as well?  How will people know where those are and for how long they will be in place?
The Minister and Commissioner of Police are authorised under the Act to declare Additional Security Areas, if the need arises.  WA Police have additional signs that may be erected however in the event of an emergency arising, the placement of signs may not be the first priority.  WA Police will use their best endeavours to notify the public if this situation arises.
Can police officers prevent people from entering a Core Security Area?
Members of the public will be allowed to go into a Core Security Area as long as they comply with any conditions of entry, are not carrying prohibited items, are not behaving unlawfully and are complying with the reasonable directions of police.
What police can do/ask in a Core Security Area?
People seeking entry to a Core Security Area must be willing to comply with the “conditions of entry” for the safety of everyone.  These include that they:

  • Supply their personal details and provide proof of those, if required.
  • Supply a good and lawful reason for requiring entry.
  • Submit to a frisk search from a police Officer and an authorised officer may conduct a basic search.
  • Submit anything being carried or under their immediate control to be searched.
  • Submit any vehicle or vessel to a search.
  • Submit to a scan by an electronic screening device.
If a person is seeking to enter a Core Security Area at a checkpoint and refuses to do any of the above, have they committed any offences?
No, they haven’t.Police officers will advise people that if they fail to comply with any of the above, they may be refused entrance to the area.  It is not an offence to fail to comply with any of the above requirements whilst outside a security area.
If I live or work on one of the streets inside a Core Security Area, how will I be aware that I’m driving into a Core Security Area in my car?
There will be roadblocks, cordon tape, signs and police. Those police officers will be on hand to give you advice and assistance.
Can I go into one of the hotels and other entertainment venues inside a Core Security Area?
Yes you can if it’s in a Core Security Area. However, in some cases, the whole of, or parts of, some of Perth’s biggest hotels will be Restricted Areas.  You will not be permitted into any part of a hotel if the whole hotel is a Restricted Area.
If I want to go into a Core Security Area to visit a business or go into a shop or office, can I do that?
Yes you can.  Police officers or authorised persons may ask you where you are going, if you are carrying any prohibited items or what you intend to do inside the Core Security Area.  Police officers or authorised persons may also search you and your possessions as a condition of entry.
Can I simply sit on the lawn in a Core Security Area and have my lunch?
Yes you can, however it is possible WA Police might advise you to move away for the purposes of security of the CHOGM 2011 events.  Again this is about time, place and circumstance.
Is it very likely police will search my bag if I go into one of those CHOGM Core Security Areas?
It is possible that a police officer may ask to search your bag.  However this is one of the conditions of entry into a Core Security Area. If you absolutely don’t want your bag searched, don’t bring it into a Core Security Area.
Will it be possible to accidentally wander into a Core Security Area without knowing, and what would happen if that occurred?
WA Police has elected not to use large fencing barriers that were seen at APEC and the G20 conferences which separates members of the public from official venues and motorcades.  Instead of fences, large signs will be placed so they are visible to the public advising they are entering a Core Security Area or that they cannot proceed any further into a CHOGM Restricted Area.  Police officers will be able to advise members of the public if they are not sure.
If a person does not want to comply with the above conditions at a checkpoint such as providing their personal details or submitting to a search can they just leave?
Yes. If the person does not wish to comply with, or fails to comply with conditions of entry, they may walk away and will not have to provide their details or submit to a search before leaving.  No offences have been committed under the CHOGM (Special Powers) Act and there are no grounds to prevent people from leaving a checkpoint under the Act or the Criminal Investigation (Identifying People) Act as no offences are involved.  Failure to comply with the requirements however, might mean they are refused entry to all Core Security Areas.
What is an “Excluded person?”
Excluded persons are those that the Commissioner of Police is satisfied pose a serious threat to the safety of persons and/or property in a Core Security Area.“Excluded Persons” may be excluded from any Core Security Area during the CHOGM 2011 period.
Will excluded people be told that they are going to be excluded?
Yes, police will make reasonable efforts to notify excluded people prior to CHOGM 2011 occurring that they will not be permitted into any Core Security Areas.
How are decisions made about who to exclude and who will make those decisions?
The Commissioner of Police can, under S 42 of the Act, make that decision based on information presented to him in order to maintain the security of the CHOGM 2011 event.
Do they have a right of appeal to that decision?
No, there is no right of appeal under the Act.

Prohibited items

Are there any items that are prohibited to be taken into a Core Security Area?
Items the CHOGM (Special Powers) Act declares to be prohibited to be taken into a Core Security Area are:

  1. spray paint cans;
  2. chains;
  3. handcuffs or other devices capable of being used to lock persons to other persons or things;
  4. poles that are more than one metre in length;
  5. marbles, ball-bearings or similar spherical items;
  6. smoke devices;
  7. flares;
  8. flammable or noxious liquids or substances;
  9. offensive liquids or substances;
  10. laser pointers;
  11. devices that are capable of being used to interfere with broadcast or communication devices;
  12. any other things (or things belonging to a class of things) prescribed by the regulations (controlled or prohibited weapons, firearms, dangerous or offensive weapon, reptile, insect or other animal capable of causing harm to another person, all or part of a traffic barrier, explosives including fireworks, glass bottles or jars, metal cans or tins, projectiles or hand tools, loud hailers or things that can make a loud noise, a thing capable of being used to climb barriers, anything that could be used to make a stage or tower, something capable of being used as a disguise.

A person must not, without reasonable excuse, take a prohibited item (listed above) into or possess a prohibited item in a Core Security Area.  The penalty is a $6,000 fine.

What is a reasonable excuse?
The term reasonable excuse includes people who have a “special justification” to possess the item within the area including residents, police, and people undertaking employment. For example, a blind person’s white cane.
Does the person get the prohibited items back?
Not necessarily.If police officers decide the property cannot be returned it is forfeited to the Crown with no compensation.  If arrangements are made to collect the prohibited item and it is not picked up within 24hrs the item will be forfeited to the Crown with no compensation.  The person will be advised the item might not be returned to the person, at the time of surrender /seizure.
What is the penalty for an offence under the CHOGM (Special Powers) Act?
Most of the offences are subject to a maximum penalty of 12 months’ imprisonment although taking a prohibited item into or possessing a prohibited item in, a Core Security Area is a $6000 fine only. It’s also a $1000 fine for using a closed road.
What are you doing to make sure these laws are applied consistently across the board?
Comprehensive training has been conducted by the WA Police Academy for all officers in the obligations and responsibilities of the Act.  Police Officers from other jurisdictions will receive training on the Act and existing legislation when they arrive in Perth. Officers will also have an aide-memoire in their pockets to refer to the Special Powers and associated processes.