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PSOs and weapons

Information about what protective services officers (PSOs) can do if they believe that a person may be armed and information about the PSO power to carry weapons themselves.

Protective services officers will be armed

Protective services officers (PSOs) carry arms when they are on duty in a designated place. They are trained to use the same kinds of equipment as police. This includes handcuffs, firearms, capsicum spray and batons.

See Second reading speech in Justice Legislation Amendment (Protective Services Officers) Bill 2011 (Vic).

If PSO thinks a person has a weapon

If a PSO, who is on duty in a designated place, reasonably suspects that a person may be armed they have the power to:

  • search a person, their vehicle or thing in their possession (without a warrant)
  • detain that person for as long as is needed to conduct the search
  • seize anything that they believe is a weapon
  • issue a fine if they find a controlled or prohibited weapon (or dangerous article).

See ss. 10H, 10J—Control of Weapons Act 1990 (Vic).

Reasonable suspicion?

When forming a reasonable suspicion (and deciding whether their suspicion is reasonable), the PSO may take into account whether or not the place has a history of violent crime. PSOs are not allowed to conduct strip searches.

The PSO has to keep records of all searches they carry out. They must also carry out the least invasive form of search that is practical under the circumstances.

Before they PSO begins to search they must:

  • warn the person that they are going to search them
  • tell the person why they suspect they are armed
  • give their name, rank and place of duty (in writing if asked)
  • produce their identification (unless they are in uniform).

See ss. 10AA(4), 10I(1A)—Control of Weapons Act 1990 (Vic).

Power to search for weapons in a designated area

From 4 April 2018 PSOs are now able to assist police in search a person or their possessions for weapons in a designated area, provided that they are on duty and the designated area falls within a designated place (such as a railway station). They may detain a person for long enough to conduct the search. PSOs are not permitted to conduct strip searches.

More information

Legislation

Control of weapons Act 1990 (Vic)

  • s. 10AA—search for weapons of a person in a designated area by PSOs
  • s. 10A—duty to make records
  • s. 10D—planned designation of an area
  • s. 10E—unplanned designation of an area
  • s. 9A(1)—power to forfeit a weapon if a PSO has issued an infringement (under s. 6(1))
  • Schedule 1—conduct of searches

See Control of Weapons Act 1990 (Vic).

Reference

Second reading speech 29 June, 2011, in Justice Legislation Amendment (Protective Services Officers) Bill 2011 (Vic).

Updated