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Policing Public Order: A Review of the Public Nuisance Offence

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2008
235 pages
The Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission (Australia) presents its findings on the use of the new public nuisance offense, which became effective April 1, 2004, with the intention of “ensuring that a person lawfully enjoying the facilities of a public place is not interfered with by the unlawful activities of another.“
The review concludes that the new legislation in itself did not have a significant impact on public-nuisance offending or on the police and courts response to it. An examination of a random sample of police narratives did not find any significant change in the types of public behavior that police identified as public nuisance. Police data show that alcohol abuse was involved in approximately 75 percent of public-nuisance-only incidents. Although the findings show an increase in the number and rate of public-nuisance offenses compared to the 12 months before and after the introduction of the new offense, the regional variations in the degree and direction of the change argue against concluding that the introduction of the new offense caused these changes. The increase in the number and rate of public-nuisance offenses is consistent with a significant increase in police public-nuisance data over a 10-year period from 1997. Most public nuisance offending occurred on the street, and this remained unchanged after the introduction of the new offenses. The police used arrest in approximately 60 percent of public-nuisance incidents; those not arrested were usually issued a notice to appear. The proportion of public-nuisance matters contested in the courts was very low both before and after the introduction of the new offense. Study data were obtained from consultations, analyses of criminal justice data, an analysis of old and the new public-nuisance offenses and relevant case law; and a literature review. 25 figures, 200 references, and appended supplementary data and information