Laws giving South Australia Police officers the confidence to use whatever force they deem necessary in a terrorist incident have passed State Parliament.
Acting Premier and Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman said the laws reflected the government’s commitment to keeping South Australians safe.
“These laws will give members of the South Australian police force certainty when they are dealing with a terrorist incident,” Ms Chapman said.
“While I’m sure we all hope police will never need to use these powers, they will ensure police officers have the confidence to do their job and protect the public, should the unthinkable occur.”
Under the laws, the Commissioner of Police will have the power to declare an incident a ‘terrorist incident’ when satisfied an incident is likely to be a terrorist attack that requires planned and coordinated police action.
“If a police officer uses force in a terrorist incident – including lethal force – they will be protected from criminal liability, unless the action was in breach of an order from the officer in charge,” Ms Chapman said.
The laws reflect changes introduced in New South Wales following concerns raised by the state’s Coroner that police officers were reluctant to use lethal force during the Lindt Café siege, because they couldn’t reasonably determine that the risk of death or serious injury to hostages was imminent.
“This removes any ambiguity for police in a terrorist incident,” Ms Chapman said.
“Importantly, where a police officer does need to use lethal force, their identity will not be disclosed unless the officer consents or the court is satisfied it may assist in the investigation of an offence, or is otherwise in the public interest.
“This will provide a greater level of protection to police involved in these incidents against any potential reprisals.”