Transit Officers & Security Guards
Transit Officers are authorised officers of Queensland Rail. There are approximately 100 Transit Officers operating across the Queensland Citytrain network. Transit Officers have the power to issue on-the-spot fines for ticketing and behavioural offences.
Do I have to answer a question?
Transit Officers have the power to:
- ask for your ticket,
- ask to see your concession card (if you are using a concession ticket), and
- ask for your name and address.
Can they ask me to leave the area or move on?
Transit Officers can ask you to leave Queensland Rail property (including trains). If you do not move they can remove you.
Can they fine me?
Yes, for any railway-related offences.
There are numerous things you can be fined for, including:
- fare evasion,
- creating a disturbance or a nuisance,
- interfering with trains, services or equipment,
- consuming food or drink on a train,
- dirtying or damaging seats of a railway carriage,
- selling or seeking business or conducting a survey on the railway,
- allowing animals other than guide dogs and hearing dogs on the train,
- consuming alcohol,
- smoking in trains or a prohibited area of the railway, and
- failing to produce a ticket when asked to.
All of these offences attract a $150 fine.
Can they arrest me?
A transit officer has the power to detain (hold) a person if the officer reasonably believes the person has committed an offence such as assault, theft or property damage on public transport. The transit officer must only use force that is reasonably necessary until the person can be taken to a police officer. The transit officer must tell the detained person why they have been detained and immediately contact a police officer to arrange delivery of the person.
A transit officer must only detain a child as an option of last resort. This means transit officers should make all efforts give children warnings or directions to leave the public transport. If an officer detains a child, the officer must advise the child’s parent or guardian as soon as possible of the detention and the place where the child is being detained.
Can transit officers search/confiscate my things?
Where a transit officer detains a child and suspects the child is carrying a weapon or device that could cause injury, the officer has the power to direct the child to remove their jacket/coat and search both the jacket and the person. However, the search must be performed by an officer of the same sex as the child and only in the presence of the child’s parent or guardian or another transit officer. The child may also request that the search take place in an area out of view of the public.
A transit officer may confiscate any item they find on the person being searched if the officer believes it may cause harm to someone.
Private Security Officers
Guardian Train services have private security officers on board for the duration of the service and are marked by a ‘G’ in the timetable. Guardian Train services cover approximately 40% of night time services across the entire Citytrain network.
There are up to 35 SecureCorp privately contracted security officers operating on evening Guardian Train services.
SecureCorp Security contractors are recognisable by their blue shirts and navy pants. They help provide a physical presence on our trains to deter crime and inappropriate behaviour on trains.
Police Railway Squad
The Queensland Police Railway Squad are members of the Queensland Police service who have been specifically trained to work in the rail environment. They work with Queensland Rail to ensure safety for customers as well as to reduce anti-social behaviour and crime on the Queensland Cityrail network. They patrol trains, train stations and car parks to ensure safety and security of commuters, staff and property. They can be uniformed or wear plain-clothes.
There are about 50 officers who work in the Squad. As police they have the power of arrest as well as the right to detain where they reasonably believe that a crime has been committed or is in the process of being committed.
Do I have to answer questions?
The police have the same powers as transit officers and also have the power to detain you in the event that you do not give your name and address.
Can they ask me to leave the area or move on?
Police can ask you to leave Queensland Rail property, and remove you if you refuse to leave.
Security Guards and Bouncers
There are different types of security officers depending upon the security they are employed to provide. For example, a security officer may be employed to patrol a shopping centre, to control crowds at entertainment venues, or they may be employed as a bodyguard. They are usually employed under a contract with a company, property owner or event organiser and usually wear security uniforms, often a fluorescent vest.
The powers of a security guard will vary depending upon the type of job they are patrolling at (and the licence that they hold). Private security guards are often used to monitor access to an area or to provide additional security. All security guards are required by law to wear a large, visible number as identification. Take note of this number and the company they are with in case you wish to make a complaint. Security guards generally have little more power than private citizens.
What powers do security guards have?
Security guards generally do not have the power to:
- confiscate your property,
- search you or your bag without your permission,
- require you to move on from an area,
- issue fines, or
- arrest you.
If they see you actually committing an offence, they can detain you until police arrive. They cannot detain you if they only suspect you of committing an offence.
Security guards in shopping centres
In a shopping centre a security officer can do the following:
- Ban you from entering the centre after handing you a banning notice which explains the reasons for the ban. There is no time limit for how long a ban can last for. If you receive a Notice, you should seek assistance from a youth worker or lawyer. They may be able to help you get the ban lifted or shortened. You should also be aware that if you refuse to leave or ignore the notice, then the police—not security guards—will have the power to charge you with the criminal offence of trespass.
- Remove you using reasonable force if you resist an order to leave.
- Detain you if they are certain that you have committed a criminal offence.
- Take a photo of you on the premises, but you may conceal your face.
- Ask to search you if doing so is a condition of entry to the shopping centre. A security officer does not have permission to conduct a search without your consent and you may withdraw your consent at any time during the search. However, a shopping centre may remove or refuse entry to a person because they did not allow a search, or refused to open their bag or remove their jacket or overcoat.
A security officer cannot:
- Arrest you on the suspicion that you have committed an offence.
- Use excessive force in any situation.
- Ban you only because of your age, unless it is a legal requirement (e.g. at a licensed venue).
- Ban you because of your ethnicity, mental illness, disability or because you are lesbian or gay.
- Ban someone from a space near the shopping centre such a footpath outside the building.
What if I have been wrongly searched?
An illegal search may amount to an assault.
An illegal search may arise:
- where an officer does not have any reasonable grounds to search you
- where an officer searches you without introducing themselves and informing you of the reasons for the search,
- where you are searched by an officer of a different sex
- where the search is excessive and beyond the officer’s powers.
If an officer has used excessive force or has acted beyond their powers of search, you may make a complaint and/or take legal action against them for assault. You may even be entitled to compensation for the assault if you have suffered injury as a result.
What if I have been wrongly arrested or detained?
An illegal arrest or detention by a transit officer or police officer can sometimes amount to false imprisonment.
False imprisonment occurs when a person (including a police officer) restrains your freedom, even for a short time, by the use of force or threat of force without a lawful reason. False imprisonment can arise in situations such as:
- where an officer arrests you based on an unreasonable belief you have committed an offence
- where an officer arrests you based on a mistake
- where the officer acts beyond their lawful powers of arrest and detention (such as keeping you in custody for an unreasonable amount of time).
The effect of false imprisonment is that the arrest or detention is against the law and you may be able take legal action against the officer. If you have suffered injury, torment or harm as a result of the false imprisonment, you may even be entitled to compensation.
If you feel you have been wrongly detained, arrested or searched, you should seek advice from a solicitor, community legal centre or Legal Aid about the possibility of taking action against the officer(s) involved.
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