Firearms Prohibition Order
Another raid in the name of Firearms Prohibition Order.
Sydney nightclub owner and underworld identity John Ibrahim’s mansion was the target of police raid, yesterday.
The raid was relating to the serving of ‘Firearms Prohibition Order’. Mr Ibrahim’s mansion in Dover Heights was raided for five hours by the police but returned empty handed.
Mr Ibrahim’s home was also raided last August, the same month his mother’s home in Sydney’s west was searched by police.
Mr. Ibrahim has vigorously challenged the order.
This raises the question of the endless power given to police in relation to FPO.
On 1 November 2013, police in the NSW were given powers to enforce a Firearm Prohibition Order (FPO). The police are given powers to search the person and his property who is subject to the FPO without a warrant. Police can conduct an FPO search at any time, and anywhere on the FPO subject as long as the search is ‘reasonably required’.
The effect of an FPO is to prohibit a person from possessing or using a firearm and to prohibit others from selling or giving a firearm to the FPO subject.
Police may conduct a search of premises using the FPO search powers in the absence of the FPO subject. In these circumstances, police may encounter occupiers who may not know about the FPO or the associated powers that police can exercise.
When changes were proposed in relation to the firearm laws, no opposition was raised during their passage, but concerns were raised as to the limitless power given to police. Greens member David Shoebridge MLC said:
…we are extremely concerned that these powers are being provided without any checks and balances. As it stands, a person who has been the subject of a series of random searches at their workplace, their home or while driving a car cannot request a review of the exercise of those powers.
A key concern about providing police with the power to search without a warrant is the potential that police can use the powers to conduct frequent or repeat searches that cannot be justified.
Challenging an FPO
Subjecting a person to a Firearm Prohibition Order is an almost arbitrary decision, made without reference to a Court or any judicial oversight which raises the question whether it can be reviewed.
A person who has been served with an FPO has 28 days in which to request that the NSW Police Force review the decision.
If the internal review does not set aside the FPO, then some FPO subjects are eligible to apply to NSW Civil Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). There are certain restrictions on such applications.
The FPO subject who;
- Does not have a conviction in NSW or elsewhere in last 10 years;
- Is not subject to an AVO within last 10 years;
- Is not subject to good behaviour bond in NSW or elsewhere relating to prescribed offences;
can apply to NCAT for a review of the FPO.
The Commissioner is not legally bound to consider the request of review. This means that the FPO continues indefinitely. Regardless of the positive change demonstrated by the subject of the FPO, a search can be carried out on them based on old or faulty intelligence, or essentially for no reason at all. It also means that any person in the company of a person subject to an FPO may also be searched without sufficient cause.
The lack of judicial oversight is of particular concern to those affected by these recent laws and those concerned about police abuse of civil rights.
If you, or someone you know has been served with FPO and require legal advise, contact Sydney Criminal Defence Lawyers.