Your Rights on Track with PSOs
Armed Protective Services Officers (PSOs) have been introduced by the State Government on Victoria’s train stations. PSOs are now working at all Melbourne metropolitan and some regional train stations from 6pm until the last train, 7 days a week, with the intent of improving passengers’ perceptions of safety.
There are real community concerns that PSOs armed with semi-automatic guns with both quasi-police and ticket inspector powers – but with less training, expereince and supervision than police – are potentially a real safety risk , especially for vulnerable people.
Your Rights on Track was a community legal project from 2012-2015 aimed at supporting commuters who may be affected by the PSO roll out. The project was coordinated by the Federation of Community Legal Centres in partnership with Smart Justice for Young People and the Mental Health Legal Centre, The project monitored the introduction of PSOs, provided feedback to the Government and Victoria Police, and kept the media and the general community informed of issues with the PSO roll out.
Tracking Protective Services Officers: Insights from the first three years details the project findings. The report documents cases of Protective Services Officers exceeding their powers by demanding personal information from commuters without legal justification and where no offence has been committed, forcibly searching commuters who do not comply, and using excessive force in a range of circumstances, including against vulnerable people.Recommendations include the removal of firearms from PSOs, requiring PSOs to request personal information only when legally justified, better public reporting and independent monitoring of use of force by PSOs and of the fines they issue, and greater flexibility for Victoria Police to deploy PSOs where they are most needed, rather than deploying them on every station, including those where little or no crime occurs.
We also ran a training session for lawyers and community workers to explain the powers of PSOs and commuters' rights.
Community Information about PSOs
Youthlaw lawyer advice on providing personal details to PSOs
Fact sheet for young people on PSOs by Smart Justice for Young People
Presentation for lawyers and community workers
Call us on 03 9652 1500 for a referral to a community legal centre for free legal information and advice.
Victoria Police policy on PSOs
Victoria Police Policy on PSOs: Chief Commissioners Instructions
Media Release 21 February 2012
Media Release 12 December 2012- PSO firearm death highlights risk of armed officers
Media Release 30 April 2015 - Report recommends action to address PSOs exceeding powers and using excessive force
On line media coverage
'Metro warned to keep eye on new Protective Services Officers at stations' Herald Sun, 22 February 2012.
'PSOs hit the platforms' MTR Radio interview- Minister for Police Peter Ryan, and Michelle McDonnell, spokesperson for Your Rights on Track about the introduction of PSOs, 22 February 2012.
'Are we really safer with PSOs?, Herald Sun, 26 July 2012.
'Armed station guards arrest fear, survery finds' Melbourne Times Weekly, 14 August 2012.
'Rail guard fires gun into floor at police HQ' The Age, 2 November 2012.
'Gun death highlights risk of armed guards, legal experts say' The Age, 12 December 2012.
'PSO policy on wrong track to fight crime' The Age, Opinion Editorial, 29 January 2013.
'Calls for review of train safety project' Interview 7.30 Victoria ABC TV 8 February 2013
'$78m for PSO toilets, holding cells', The Age, 6 June 2013
'Interview with Michelle McDonnell on concerns over PSO holding cells', ABC News Radio, 6 June 2013
'Holding cells being built at Melbourne train stations', ABC 7pm TV News Victoria, 5 June 2013
Protective Services Officers here to stay, ABC 7.30 Victoria, 8 August 2014.
'Victorian Protective Services officers accussed of assulting man at Jacana train station', ABC News Online, 31 March 2015.
Commuters waive rights when faced with agressive PSOs reprot claims'. The Age, 31 March 2015
'Lack of PSO oversight leads to excessive force, privacy instrusions: report'. The Age, 1 May 2015.
'Train Travel: taking a ride from safety to fear'. The Age, 2 May 2015.
'Concerns of excessive force, over policing and over fining prompts recommendations to change Victoria's Protective Services Officer Program'. ABC News radio, 1 May 2015.
'Community Lawyers urge Vic Govt to disarm Protective Services Officers'. ABC Radio AM, 1 May 2015.
'Report finds training of PSOs inadeqaute', Ballarat Courier, I May 2015.
Law Reform Submissions
Joint Letter to Minister Wooldridge 28 April 2011- Voicing our concerns about the introduction of transit PSOs
Joint letter to Minister Wooldrige opposing new powers for PSOs to apprehend under the Mental Health Act -17 August 2011
Letter to Minister for Police and Emergency Services outlining our concerns over the Government’s PSO policy and how we think the policy could be improved. - 18 January 2013
Law reform submission to Victoria Police Community Consultation - 15 August 2013
Tracking Protective Services Officers: Insights from the first three years - 1 May 2015
For further information about this project, contact Michelle McDonnell