An Authorised Officer is not a police officer, but they are employed by the government to patrol public transport and have the power to issue on-the-spot fines.
If you’re on a bus, train or tram and a police officer wants to speak to you, their powers are governed by the ordinary police laws.
An Authorised Officer is allowed to ask for your name and address if they reasonably suspect you’ve done something wrong, you have a right to ask them what the grounds for their suspicions are and they have to tell you.
You must answer truthfully, or risk being fined.
You can ask to see their official identity card, they must show you.
If you break the rules about travelling on public transport, you can be fined. If you are fined you will receive an infringement notice that describes the offence you are alleged to have committed.
An Authorised Officer can still stop you to ask to see your ticket after you’ve left the vehicle or a station.
Some of things you might be fined for are:
An Authorised Officer may arrest you if they reasonably believe it is necessary to preserve public order, prevent the continuation or repetition of an offence or for the safety and wellbeing of the public.
The Authorised Officer must release you as soon as the reason for arresting or detaining you no longer exists.
An Authorised Officer may not search you.
However, they may take your ticket off you if they have reasonable grounds to believe it’s invalid.
An Authorised Officer can remove you from a bus, train or tram if they believe you’re behaving in an offensive or disorderly way. If you don’t do as they say, they are allowed to use reasonable force to remove you.
Their power also extends to asking you to leave (and removing you if don’t do it right away) from a station or bus stop.
When making a complaint it’s a good idea to include the name of the officer, and the date, time and location of the incident. You can make a complaint about an officer to the relevant public transport operator. You can find the details of the different public transport officers in Victoria here.
If you are not happy with their response, you can make a complaint to the Public Transport Ombudsman (PTO). You can find details on how to contact the PTO here.
You can also contact the Victorian Ombudsman for complaints about an officer including complaints here.
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