MP sparks debate about 'gross' police action at train station

·News Reporter
·3-min read

A NSW Greens MP, up for a seat in the Federal Senate, has ignited a fiery row on social media, after taking a swipe at the Victorian police force.

“I’m used to gross over policing in NSW,” David Shoebridge wrote on Twitter on Monday, “but I didn’t realise it’s so bad in Victoria too.”

Sharing four images from a police search in Melbourne over the weekend, Mr Shoebridge says officers “swarmed” Flinders Street train station on Sunday searching “mostly young people”.

“They were using extreme powers with no court oversight,” he alleged.

“To be clear, catching a train is not a crime.”

Greens MP David Shoebridge has accused the Victoria Police Force of using 'extreme powers' to search people at a Melbourne train station. Source: Getty
Greens MP David Shoebridge has accused the Victoria Police Force of using 'extreme powers' to search people at a Melbourne train station. Source: Getty

The tweet includes a photo of a Designated Area Search Notice which states that police officers were “empowered to search a person and anything in the possession or control of the person, or a vehicle for weapons".

It also includes details about being searched using an electronic wand, and that people may be given a “pat down” search.

Operation success results in weapon seizures and arrests

While Mr Shoebridge’s tweet went viral, with many in the Twitterverse labelling the search as “disgusting” and “unnecessary overkill”, police have on Tuesday revealed to Yahoo News Australia that the operation netted a dozen dangerous weapons.

“Over the two nights from 11-12 June, police located 12 weapons including knives, knuckledusters and a mallet,” a statement from Victoria police read.

“13 people were arrested for a range of offences including carrying prohibited weapons, drug possession and outstanding warrants.

“In an ideal world, we would never have to run these operations, but the reality is a small number of people chose to carry weapons. Victoria Police’s role is to keep the community safe and we simply won’t tolerate weapons on the streets.”

Victorian police powers expanded over the last decade

In 2009, officers in Victoria were given the power to declare a ‘designated area’ in which they could identify people and conduct searches for weapons.

The State Government justified the move by referencing a rise in youth crime involving weapons.

But it received widespread criticism with the Police Accountability Project saying the updated laws could allow officers to target certain racial groups because they don’t need any reasonable suspicion to search them.

On Twitter, Mr Shoebridge’s comment is continuing to spark outrage.

“I’m not sure what or who they’re protecting,” one user wrote. “I know several average Aussies who’ve been deliberately injured by these people with six weeks training and a gun. Can you imagine being a minority and seeing this lot waiting for you?”

Many believe the Victoria Government has given police too much power to search people on the street. Source: Getty
Many believe the Victoria Government has given police too much power to search people on the street. Source: Getty

“I have seen young people being harassed unfairly by police on quite a few occasions,” another person shared, “and as a mum of young men it disturbs me greatly."

Others, however, described the MP's Tweet as “over the top”.

“Your photos show eight Protective Service Officers whose job is to patrol public transport and create a safe environment,” one woman wrote.

“Older female Melburnians like me who use public transport late at night are quite happy for their service.”

“I’d prefer this to escalating knife crime,” another user added. “It’s good to see them out and about.”

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