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Shoot to Kill

In a hasty response to the findings of the Lindt Café Inquest the NSW Lower House has already passed a bill granting police increased “shoot to kill” powers.

Members of the public may find this swift reaction comforting. They should not. With any proposed legislation it is customary and indeed necessary that there be a period of consultation. In the case of proposed legislation that, by its very nature, will facilitate the taking of human life by police who routinely make mistakes under pressure, that consultation period is absolutely critical.

Here are some key points in the bill (summarised):

  • The commissioner may declare an incident to be a terrorist act
  • In relation to such an incident a police officer may use lethal force if, in their perception, it is reasonably necessary to defend a person threatened by the terrorist act or to prevent or terminate their unlawful deprivation of liberty
  • A police officer who acts under such authority in good faith incurs no criminal responsibility
  • This is so even if the declaration proves to be invalid

The President of The NSW Law Society of NSW, Pauline Wright, is among those expressing grave concerns stating, “It appears to give police the power to kill a hostage taker without any reasonable suspicion the alleged offender will actually injure or kill the hostages.”

The speed with which this bill is passing through the houses is likely to result in poorly crafted legislation which may undermine its very purpose: the safety of the community.

Image Credit – Stefano Garau ©

Written by Michael Hempsall on August 3, 2017

Armed with this unique perspective Michael offers his clients genuine understanding and sensitivity, to the point legal advice, and presents with a style of advocacy that speaks of his many years experience in the criminal jurisdiction. View Michael's profile

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