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Seizure of volatile substances

Police must follow correct procedure for seizing, returning and disposing of volatile substances and associated items.

Police and Protective services officers (PSOs) must follow correct procedure for seizing, returning and disposing of volatile substances and associated items.

Explanation for possession

If a police officer or PSO detects a volatile substance (or item used for inhaling a volatile substance) during a search they must ask the person why they have the item.

The officer may seize the volatile substance or item if, after hearing the explanation, they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person searched:

  • is under 18 and is inhaling or intends to inhale a volatile substance
  • intends to provide the volatile substance detected to person under 18, and
  • intends to provide the item detected to a person under 18 to use to inhale a volatile substance.

Note: Police and PSOs are exempted from asking for this reason if they believe that person is unable to understand due to effects of inhaling volatile substance or if it is otherwise impractical to do so.

If no explanation is given

Police or PSO may seize the item found even if no explanation has been given if they have a reasonable belief that the person:

  • is under 18 and intends to inhale volatile substance, or
  • intends to provide substance or item to person under 18.

Return or disposal of items

A person who has had a volatile substance seized by police, or who handed a volatile substance or item used for inhaling such substance to police upon request, may apply to have item returned to them within 7 days of seizure or receipt by police.

The officer who receives or seizes the substance or item must inform the person about their right to have the substance returned.

Person under 18

A person under 18 who has had an item seized or voluntarily handed an item to police may collect the item within 7 days, but only if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Disposal of items

Notwithstanding the obligation to return seized items upon application within 7 days, police may dispose of a volatile item if they believe that there is a risk to health or safety in:

  • removing it from the place of receipt
  • storing the item.

Items not collected within 7 days may be forfeited to the Crown. The minister may direct that the item be sold or disposed of.

More information


Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic)

  • s. 60BA—protective services officers have the same powers as police, under the law that deals with volatile substances, if they are on duty in the vicinity of a designated place
  • s. 60I—request for explanation if volatile substance or accessory found
  • s. 60I(2)—when a member of police does not have to comply
  • s. 60J—seizure where explanation given
  • s. 60K—seizure where no explanation given
  • s. 60N—return of seized or produced volatile substances or accessories used for inhaling
  • s. 60N(4)—need to be accompanied by parent or guardian if under 18 when collecting seized or volunteered items
  • s. 60P—forfeiture to Crown
  • s. 60Q—disposal or making safe a volatile substance

See Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic)(opens in a new window)