Firearm Prohibition Orders (FPO) are one of the options available to the NSW Police Force to provide additional powers over individuals who are a potential threat to society. There has been a dramatic increase recently in the NSW Police Force issuing such orders, often to individuals who the general public would not think should be subject to such orders. The days when such orders were only used against OMCG members are over. Notably, even an association with a criminal friend or a conviction for an offence with no element relating to the use or possession of firearms can lead to an FPO.
Who Could Be Subject To A Firearm Prohibition Order?
The Commissioner of Police may issue an FPO against a person if they are of the opinion that a person is ‘not fit, in the public interest, to have possession of a firearm’. This is a very broad test, and many factors could lead to the forming of such an opinion. Often, individuals are served with FPOs after being charged with or found guilty of offences involving violence, firearms, weapons, drugs or other organised crime. FPOs can also be given for significant prior criminal histories or if police intelligence suggests the involvement in criminal activity. The issue of such an order is completely in the discretion of the Commissioner of Police or their delegate.
What Is The Effect Of A Firearm Prohibition Order?
As stated in the name, an FPO prohibits the individual from acquiring, possessing or using a firearm, firearm part or ammunition, on pain of significant maximum penalties of full-time imprisonment. It is also an offence to reside at a house where a firearm, firearm part or ammunition is kept, or to attend a restricted premises, which includes premises like shooting ranges and firearms clubs. A person who supplies a person subject to an FPO with a firearm, firearm part or ammunition who knows that that person is subject to an FPO also commits an offence.
Perhaps the most serious infringement on an individual’s liberty that an FPO carries with it are the drastic search powers that the Police are entitled to use against a person subject to an FPO. Any police officer may:
1. Detain a person who is subject to a firearms prohibition order, or;
2. Enter any premises occupied by or under the control or management of such a person, or;
3. Stop and detain any vehicle, vessel or aircraft occupied by or under the control or management of such a person
4. Conduct a search of the person, or of the premises, vehicle, vessel or aircraft, for any firearms, firearm parts or ammunition
Such search powers do not require police obtaining a warrant before they are exercised, or for police to suspect on reasonable grounds that a person is in possession of a firearm.
Indeed, police are entitled to exercise these powers ‘as reasonably required’ for the purposes of determining whether a person is in possession of a firearm, firearm part or ammunition. There is no statutory guidance to the term ‘reasonably required’. It is often the case that police will serve a person with an FPO just prior to conducting a search of their residential premises. These powers are indeed drastic.
Challenging A Firearm Prohibition Order
If you are served with an FPO, you have 28 days from the date of service of the FPO to file a written request for an internal review of the decision to issue an FPO with the Commissioner of Police. A member of the NSW Police Force who is not substantially involved in the making of the FPO, will determine whether the FPO will continue or be revoked. If the FPO is to continue, reasons must be provided as why the FPO will not be revoked.
If your application for an internal review is unsuccessful, you may then apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a further review of the decision to impose an FPO against you. A review by the Tribunal is much more advantageous as the Tribunal is independent of the NSW Police Force.
However, the Tribunal can not review a decision to impose an FPO if you:
- Have been convicted in the last 10 years of certain offences
- Subject to an apprehended violence order or have been subject to such an order in the last 10 year
- Subject to a good behaviour bond
- Registered on the Child Protection Register
Book A Free Consultation To Discuss Your Matter
At Longton Legal, we have handled many reviews against decisions of the NSW Police Force to issue our clients with FPOs. It is highly recommended if you have been issued with such an order that you consult an experienced criminal defence solicitor at Longton Legal.
*Disclaimer：This is intended as general information only and not to be construed as legal advice. The above information is subject to changes over time. You should always seek professional advice before taking any course of action.*
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