Upholding whose right? Discretionary police powers to punish, collective ‘pre-victimisation’ and the dilution of individual rights

This article uses the example of Victoria’s alcohol-related banning notice provisions to explore the changing conception of balance within criminal justice processes. Despite the formalisation of individual rights within measures such as Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 20...

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Published in:The Australian and New Zealand journal of criminology
Main Author: Farmer, Clare (Author)
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Published: 2017
In:The Australian and New Zealand journal of criminology
Year: 2017, Volume: 50, Issue: 4, Pages: 493-509
Online Access: Volltext (Resolving-System)
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Summary:This article uses the example of Victoria’s alcohol-related banning notice provisions to explore the changing conception of balance within criminal justice processes. Despite the formalisation of individual rights within measures such as Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006, the discretionary power of the police to issue on-the-spot punishments in response to actual or potential criminal behaviour has increased steadily. A key driver, evident across the parliamentary debates of the banning legislation, is a presumed need to protect the broader community of potential victims. As a result, the individual rights of those accused (but not necessarily convicted) of undesirable behaviours are increasingly subordinated to the pre-emptive protection of the law-abiding majority. This shift embodies a largely unsubstantiated notion of collective pre-victimisation. Significantly, despite the expectations of Victoria’s Charter, measures such as banning notices have been enacted with insufficient evidence of the underlying collective risk, of their likely effectiveness and without meaningful ongoing scrutiny. The motto of Victoria Police - Uphold the Right - appears to belie a growing uncertainty over whose rights should be upheld and how.
ISSN:1837-9273
DOI:10.1177/0004865816660351