Saving time on nuisance crime
THE LOAD on prosecutors in the Fraser Coast's courthouses is set to be lightened as of next week.
From Monday the region's police officers will be able to hand out on-the-spot fines for public nuisance offences.
For the past few years criminal law lists in both the Hervey Bay and Maryborough magistrates courts have been littered with public nuisance offences, taking up hours of precious court time.
Every week prosecutors were forced to read out details of relatively minor offences which were nearly always fuelled by alcohol.
Now police have the option of handing infringement notices to those who commit offences such as urinating in public, disorderly behaviour and disturbing the peace rather than giving them a notice to appear.
The offender will still have to pay a fine, but will be dealt with outside the courtroom.
The system was trialled for 12 months in Townsville and South Brisbane and a subsequent evaluation by Griffith University indicated a positive result.
Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said infringement notices would not replace police officers arresting and charging people with more serious public nuisance offences.
He said the aim of the new system was to improve public safety.
“I would like to make it clear that police officers can still arrest and charge a person for a public nuisance offence with the matter being finalised in court.
“The issuing of an infringement notice is an additional option for police officers when they are dealing with good order offences.”