Targeting Criminality concerns the recent introduction of revised anti-consorting laws in NSW. Fundamentally, any consorting law, by its very nature, impinges on a person’s right to freedom of association. Since the consorting provisions impinge so significantly on international human rights law, no legislative amendment or policy change could ever fully cure the law’s deficiencies. On this basis, PIAC strongly recommends repeal of the consorting provisions.
While repeal of the law is PIAC’s primary submission, in the event that certain consorting provisions are retained, the recommendations below are an attempt to ‘improve’ the significant problems with the law. To reiterate, even if adopted, PIAC’s recommendations remain improvements only, not full-scale fixes. In these circumstances, PIAC recommends the following:
1. Narrow the application of the consorting provisions to a targeted group of persons involved in serious criminal activity.
2. Specify timeframes for the period:
– between the commission of an indictable offence and the issuance of the consorting warning;
– for which warnings remain valid; and
– during which ‘habitual’ consorting must occur.
3. Provide protections under the law to address the specific needs of vulnerable persons.
4. Clarify the procedural requirements for the issuance of an effective warning.
5. Expand the defences available to a person warned or charged with the offence of consorting.
6. Introduce an internal and external review mechanism for a person to challenge the issuance of a warning.
7. Minimise privacy concerns that arise in the context of the offence of consorting.