What to say & do when approached by police during lockdown restrictions


NSW Police will be out in heavy numbers in particular in the Sydney Southwest and Sydney West areas to enforce the state health restrictions. Also known as Public Health (COVID-19 Temporary Movement and Gathering Restrictions) Order 2021. 

Please remember that you cannot control what police have been told to do but you can control how you react to them when stopped and questioned for “allegedly” breaching a restriction.

What if I am stopped by Police?

If NSW Police have stopped you while you are out during a ‘stay at home’ order or lockdown, they must tell you:
• why they have stopped you,
• why they are searching you or
• why they are arresting you.

If police reasonably suspect you have breached the Public Health Order, they will most likely accuse you of that and then ask for your name and address proof of address (under the new Clause 24D). You must provide them with at least your name and address and proof of address.

Should you say more?

Under Clause 24D you are required now to provide police with information, including your name, address and proof of residence and evidence that the you have been tested for COVID-19, to allow a decision to be made about—
(a) whether the person is an affected worker or a Greater Sydney worker,
(b) if the person is an affected worker or a Greater Sydney worker, whether
the person has complied with this Part.

The Minister also directs that a person who provides information in response to a request under this clause must ensure the information is true and accurate.

What else should you say?

You can ask them to turn on their body worn video and state their name, rank and station. You can also politely tell them that you will be recording the conversation on your mobile phone. Do not shove the phone in the officer’s face and do not be rude about the process. If police have decided that you are breaching the legislation, then they will then issue you with the fine.

What about being arrested?

The owner of Rashays was arrested and no doubt you would have seen this unfold on camera – this was very unfortunate and many will argue it was unnecessary but what you can learn from that situation is how quickly this escalated to the point where police found a reason to arrest him.

You can be arrested and taken back to the police station for your identity to be ascertained or suspects on reasonable grounds that the person is committing or has committed an offence and related issues. Section 99 of LEPRA (LAW ENFORCEMENT (POWERS AND RESPONSIBILITIES) ACT 2002) gives the police the main power to arrest and lists the reasons to do so.

This is why it is important to not argue or defy the police and just agree to what they direct you to do. Most of the time, they will issue you with an on the spot fine and an arrest will not be required. Once they have decided to issue you with a fine they will ask you for identification – which you should then provide to finalise the fine process – hence why arrest is not required.

If you are given a fine just take it and walk away- do not argue or discuss this further with the officer, it will not help the situation.

Have you heard the saying: “least said, soonest mended” – this means it is best not to say too much about something bad that has happened.

Can police demand to know where you are going and what you are doing?

It seems that under clause 24D, they can request information about why you are out in the community and if it is for work purposes, to seek further information to determine if you are from a particular Local Government Area (such as Fairfield). You should comply with this order.

A simple interaction with police can easily escalate into an arrest. You don’t want that to happen as this causes a whole heap of stress and problems for you and you’ll need to hire a good lawyer to get you out on bail. If you get a fine, we can always challenge it in court or seek leniency from Revenue NSW or options to pay it off in instalments.

All this is equally applicable to wearing face masks. You must wear a fitted face mask in all parts of NSW if you are in an indoor public venue or an organised outdoor gathering. Some exclusions do apply.

Contact us on 1800 100 529 if you require any further assistance or if you have been charged by police for breaching the lockdown rules.