Updated advice on your rights with regards to on-farm incursion: unauthorised access

Important information - please read full article.

The Queensland Government has been working to boost significant the protection to farmers, their livestock and properties this included the development of an Animal Industry Security Taskforce.

The key purpose of this group is to review current policies, legislation and regulations regarding planning and response to animal welfare group activities on farms and other agricultural places of business e.g. feedlots, abattoirs etc.

DAF, QPS and other Government Departments are involved to advise the relevant/various groups on their legal positions, rights and obligations in the event of trespass, break end enter and wilful damage to ensure there is consistency across all industries.

Below is the updated advice and recommended course of action should your farm be targeted.

In the event of trespass

1. Should any unauthorised persons attend any property, the lawful occupier should immediately contact police on 000 if considered an emergency, or Policelink on 131 444 if it is not an immediate threat.

2. Avoid confrontation and violence at all costs. The safety of you and your family is the priority. Don’t threaten to harm and don’t produce, use or threaten to use weapons.

3. Don’t answer any questions, particularly personal ones (other than providing your name).

4. Don’t argue about ideology; this is not about changing minds.

5. Don’t discuss your farming or business practices or disclose where any animals and/or equipment is stored or housed.

6. If it is safe to engage with the trespassers, do continually ask questions and provide clear directions. Repeat the below questions and statements if they don’t respond. Be prepared for the use of slogans.

a. Try to identify the organiser/leader of the group by asking who is in charge.

b. Ask them their names – tell them yours and tell them that you are the lawful occupier. This shows accountability and willingness to be cooperative.

c. Ask them why they are there.

d. Ask who gave them permission to be there. Tell them that they have no permission to be on the property.

e. Acknowledge that they have a right to protest but ask them to leave and move to public property. You can use statements such as ‘I understand your desire to protest, but please go back to the farm gate’.

f. Tell them that this is a place of lawful business and a home.

g. Personalise the experience. State that you and your family or workers are upset or fearful due to their presence.

h. Advise them that they may compromise the biosecurity and health of the animals on the property.

i. Call the police and tell the group that you have.

7. If possible and safe to do so, record actions – use a phone or another video-recording device.

8. Focus on collecting evidence, note:

  • information about the incident i.e. time of entry

  • registration plates or descriptions of vehicles used

  • who seems to be in charge

  • description of persons

  • who said what and what did they say/do.

9. If any animal is injured during or as a result of an incident, contact your private veterinarian.

10. If any animal dies during or as a result of an incident, contact Policelink on 131 444

11. If you have concerns of any incident risking your property’s workplace, health and safety management system contact Workplace Health and Safety Queensland on 1300 362 128 or visit worksafe.qld.gov.au/contact-us

Investigation of matters by police – receiving a complaint

Essentially by being called to a location, police are responding to a report of an offence i.e. a complaint is made.

The successful investigation of offences and the management of incidents is dependent on timely and accurate information being passed to investigating officers. Police officers who receive complaints or reports of offences and incidents are responsible for the accurate collection, recording and dissemination of this information.

First response police officers tasked to attend an occurrence are to promptly investigate the facts and circumstances in order to:

1. identify if an offence has been committed

2. identify potential witnesses and offenders

3. obtain all relevant information

4. safeguard evidence.

Once an offence is identified, police then must consider two factors when deciding to prosecute:

1. sufficiency of evidence, and

2. public interest.

There are a number of aspects of both areas that police must be satisfied with. When they ask a landowner/occupier ‘do they wish to make a complaint?’, police are ensuring that they are agreeable to providing the necessary evidence to commence a prosecution. This may include later providing a written statement and attendance in court as a witness. If they have recorded the actions of the activists, then this can be tendered as evidence.

How to protect your property

People are encouraged to review their enterprise security arrangements to reduce the risk or impact of an unauthorised entry incident. You may want to take into consideration the following strategies which support both increased property security and good biosecurity practices:

  • Limit access points to the property.

  • Make sure all doors, gates and other entry points are locked when staff are not present.

  • Have a biosecurity management plan in place.

  • Display clear and appropriate signage stating entry point, biosecurity and workplace safety requirements.

  • ·Keep records of audits, staff training and biosecurity procedures up to date and at hand.

  • Maintain a safety management system to ensure a safe workplace for yourself and workers, including contractors.

  • Consider the installation of CCTV video surveillance systems.

  • Screen new staff applicants carefully and consider terms of employment.

  • If you receive any threats or believe your farm may be targeted, inform the police by calling Policelink on 131 444.

As of 26 April 2019 – Biosecurity regulation amendment

To further support producers, the Queensland Government has fast-tracked an amendment to Queensland’s Biosecurity Regulation 2016 to address potential biosecurity risks of unauthorised entry to places where animals are kept.

This amendment will take effect from 26 April 2019. Under the amendment, anybody that enters your property must comply with your biosecurity management plan when they enter or leave and while they are on your property. To support the security of your property under this new regulation, livestock businesses are encouraged to:

  • Ensure you are registered as a biosecurity entity with Biosecurity Queensland (registration and renewal fees apply for commercial primary producers)

  • Ensure your biosecurity management plan is up-to-date with information that aligns to the new biosecurity regulation:

  • Industry communique, on-farm incursion: unauthorised entry, April 2019 4

  • For those who currently have a biosecurity plan in place, a checklist is available to support you in upgrading this plan to ensure you have the best possible protection under the legislation. Visit daf.qld.gov.au/biosecurityplan or phone 13 25 23.

  • If you don’t have a plan in place, information on developing a biosecurity management plan which aligns to the Queensland Regulation is available from daf.qld.gov.au/biosecurityplan or phone 13 25 23.

  • Display signs at access points to the property stating that a biosecurity management plan applies to the place. You can download an approved sign at daf.qld.gov.au/biosecurityplan