RLC in the Media: NSW Police Fined Two Siblings With Intellectual Disabilities For Not Understanding COVID Orders

Two siblings in regional NSW with intellectual disabilities have been slapped with fines for not understanding public health orders — adding to concern over police discretion during lockdown. 

Millie Roberts reports for Junkee

Kevin Lamont, 32, and his sister Karise Livingstone, 22, were stopped by officers en route to the shops in Wagga Wagga. The pair weren’t aware they couldn’t shop together, the Daily Advertiser reported.

According to a police spokesperson, Lamont and Livingstone did not present a lawful excuse for being out of the house and were both fined $1000 each. 

Police powers were strengthened in August as the state’s lockdown response expanded from Greater Sydney into wider NSW. In an internal message to his workforce, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told officers they wouldn’t be held to account for any COVID fines incorrectly handed out to the public, as part of their ‘high level enforcement’ approach.

These arbitrary police decisions have left many worried that there isn’t enough compassion in ensuring compliance, especially with vulnerable communities. Police Accountability Solicitor at Redfern Legal Centre Samantha Lee said in a radio interview that this approach can isolate individuals who can’t keep up with stay-at-home order amendments.

“The laws have changed over 60 times, people are confused, and people aren’t out there generally flouting the laws. There are many people that just plainly know what is going on, that are wanting to do the right thing,” she said.

Read full article (Junkee, 3 September 2021)