NSW Minister of Police Troy Grant announces tougher laws for rural crime

NSW Deputy Commissioner for regional field operations Gary Worboys, NSW police minister Troy Grant and western region commander Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie at the Dubbo Regional Livestock Markets. Photo: FAYE WHEELER

NSW Deputy Commissioner for regional field operations Gary Worboys, NSW police minister Troy Grant and western region commander Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie at the Dubbo Regional Livestock Markets. Photo: FAYE WHEELER

Fines for illegal hunting on private land will double to $2200 and forced muster order applications will be possible to assist victims of stock theft under legislation proposed to rein in rural crime.

Police minister Troy Grant on Monday announced the NSW Government would strengthen laws in response to a long-awaited inquiry into the issue by former NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Steve Bradshaw.

Mr Grant said the Bradshaw Review identified a number of areas for improvement in responding to rural crime from both an operational and legislative perspective.

He was speaking at the Dubbo Regional Livestock Markets, where lambs and sheep were being received from members of an industry suffering from acts of stock theft, trespass and illegal hunting.

“The unique features and challenges of crime in rural and regional areas demands a tailored response,” Mr Grant said.

“We must ensure that the police respond to reports of crime in a timely fashion and have the necessary skills and knowledge of their local communities to hold those responsible for these crimes to account.

“That is why the NSW Liberals and Nationals government appointed, for the first time, a dedicated NSW Police Force Deputy Commissioner for Regional Field Operations, Mr Gary Worboys APM.”

Mr Worboys was also at the Dubbo saleyards and said the NSW Police Force was committed to improving outcomes for the victims of rural crime.

“I welcome the findings of Mr Bradshaw’s Review and look forward to making the necessary operational changes to improve our response to rural crime, in consultation with the Rural Crime Advisory Group,” Mr Worboys said.

“The NSW Police Force has already taken a number of steps to improve officer training and education when it comes to rural crime, including the updating of the rural crime manual and the introduction of workshops led by the Department of Primary Industries, and experienced regional officers.”

Through the current re-engineering of the NSW Police Force there will be increased flexibility to place specially trained police in the areas they are needed most.

“Our justice system must also maintain the confidence of victims of stock theft, trespass and illegal hunting,” Mr Grant said.

The Bradshaw Review highlighted a number of common concerns amongst victims, including that the costs associated with rural crime are often not reflected in the penalties delivered by the courts, as well as deficiencies in the law regarding trespass.

NSW Deputy Commissioner for regional field operations Gary Worboys, western region commander Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie and Troy Hogarth from the NSW Department of Primary Industries game licensing unit at the announcement. Photo: FAYE WHEELER

NSW Deputy Commissioner for regional field operations Gary Worboys, western region commander Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie and Troy Hogarth from the NSW Department of Primary Industries game licensing unit at the announcement. Photo: FAYE WHEELER

In response to these issues raised in the report, the NSW Government will propose:

  • a new aggravated trespass offence where there is an enhanced biosecurity risk, intent to engage in stock theft, or the presence of hunting equipment;
  • a specific reference to a victim’s geographical isolation as an aggravating factor on sentence;
  • the ability to apply to the Local Court for a forced muster order, which will assist victims of stock theft;
  • a deeming provision that will help to provide certainty of ownership to those who harvest rangeland goats for commercial gain;
  • increased flexibility for police to seize vehicles connected with a game hunting offence; and
  • the doubling of the maximum financial penalty for illegal hunting on private land from $1,100 to $2,200.

“These measures will ensure that the NSW Police Force has the right legislative tools to address theft, trespass and illegal hunting and the courts have appropriate penalties available.

“The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will continue to consult with key stakeholders and will always strive to improve the response to rural and regional crime.”

The Bradshaw Review Report can be found on the NSW Department of Justice website: http://www.justice.nsw.gov.au/