Disclaimer: The material in this fact sheet is intended as a general guide only. You should not act on the basis of this information in this fact sheet without first getting legal advice about your own particular situation. This fact sheet is based on the law in Victoria as at November 2017.
When do police have the power to ask me for my name and address?
Police can ask you for your name and address if they have reasonable grounds to believe:
- you have committed a crime;
- you are about to commit a crime;
- you may know something about a serious (indictable) crime; or
- you are driving and they lawfully pull you over.
What if I refuse to give my name and/or address or I give police false details?
If police have lawful grounds to ask you for your name and address, it is a criminal offence to:
- refuse or fail to state your name and address;
- state a false name; or
- state a false, incorrect or incomplete address.
What are my rights if police ask me for my name and address?
If police ask you for your name and address they must:
- tell you why they are asking you for your name and address;
- tell you their name, rank and station if you ask them; and
- put their details in writing for you if you ask them.
It is an offence for a police officer who asks you for your name and address to refuse to give you their details either verbally or in writing if you ask them to do so.
What about Protective Services Officers (PSOs)?
PSOs have much the same powers as police to ask you for your name and address if you are on or near public transport property, which includes roads, car parks, bus stops or taxi ranks connected with or leading into a train station. That means a PSO can ask you for your name and address if they have reason to believe you have committed a crime or you are about to commit a crime, including fare evasion or underage drinking, as long as you are on or near public transport property.
What are my rights if a PSO asks me for my name and address?
If a PSO asks you for your name and address they must:
- tell you why they are asking you for your name and address
- tell you that it is an offence to refuse or fail to give your correct name and address to a PSO
- show you identification to prove they are a PSO if they are not in uniform
What if I refuse to give a PSO my name and address or I give a PSO false details?
If a PSO lawfully asks you for your name and address it is an offence to:
- refuse or fail to give your name and address
- give a false name
- give a false, incorrect or incomplete address
What if police or a PSO asks me for my name and address for no lawful reason?
If a police officer or a PSO asks you for your name and address and you believe they had no lawful reason, you should seek legal advice about making a complaint. Even if you believe police ask you for your name and address unlawfully, it is best to give your name and address at the time and make a complaint about it later. Try to take note of as much information as possible, such as the time, date, location and the contact details of any witnesses. As outlined above, you have a right to ask for the police officer’s name, rank and station in writing, so make sure you do this if you would like to make a complaint later.
Getting legal help
If you are under 25, you can get free and confidential legal advice.
Phone: (03) 9611 2412 (9am-5pm, Mon-Fri)
Victoria Legal Aid – Legal Help
For legal information, referrals or appointments.
Phone: 1300 792 387
This page was last updated 17/01/2018