Victoria Police and Government want Protective Service Officers (PSOs) to be allowed to continue to patrol shopping centres and main streets beyond the pandemic.
Youthlaw opposes this:
PSOs have limited training – only about one third of the training of other police officers. Yet they have a significant powers including carrying guns, issuing fines, searching & detaining & exercising move on powers.
The lack of training for PSOs, coupled with the lack of an independent complaints system, leaves vulnerable groups open to unfair, over-policing. It is disappointing that one of the major grounds of arrest during the state of emergency has been drunk in public place – especially when the government has committed to abolishing this offence.
We already hear about incidents at train stations involving PSOs and excessive fining of young people with known vulnerabilities. Young people will be particularly vulnerable to over-policing with PSOs patrolling shopping centres and main streets post pandemic. These are some of the few public places that young people are able to gather together in relative safety, and which don’t cost any money.
We call for a review of the PSO program rather than expansion of their duties.
We also call for independent investigation of all misconduct complaints against PSO and police.