The West

A gathering of as few as 12 revellers could be declared out of control and shut down by police under the Government’s anticipated legislation to curb rowdy suburban parties.

Under the laws, revellers who ignore a warning to disperse and insult or offend police officers can be jailed for three years or fined $18,000 – an increased from the existing one year and $12,000 maximum penalties for failing to comply with police.

These penalties are even greater than the new offence of organising an out of control gathering which, under laws introduced to Parliament today, will attract a maximum penalty of 12 months jail or $12,000.

Police Minister Liza Harvey said she wanted to “make an example” of irresponsible party hosts by forcing them to pay the costs of the police response, despite being unable to give a range of what such operations typically cost.

Under the Government’s proposed amendments to the Criminal Code, a senior police officer would have the power to declare a party of 12 or more ‘out of control’ if at least two of the attendees were acting criminally.

Hosts or parents who “knowingly permit their child to organise a party which becomes out-of-control” would face criminal charges, unless they took reasonable steps to keep it in hand.

Organisers should not post open invitations on the internet and if invitations were sent to a limited number of people on Facebook, for example, they would have to contact police if vastly more people showed up, Mrs Harvey said.

In the case of the recent fracas at a disused shed in Piara Waters when 70 officers dispersed a crowd of 500 youths, police under the new laws could have shut the party as soon as they knew numbers were likely to be too many to control.

Mrs Harvey said police arriving at an out of control party would be empowered to issue a verbal order to disperse, and failure to comply would be an offense.

Shadow police minister Michelle Roberts, who has long called on the Government to introduce the laws, said Labor would not stand in the way of them but would try to amend any features it deemed unworkable after scrutinising them.

The West Australian

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