skip to content
Law Handbook banner image



Police officers may ask a person to stop loitering in a public place (in other words, to leave the place) where they believe on reasonable grounds:

  • that an offence has been, or is about to be, committed by the person or by others in the vicinity (as more usually happens);
  • that a breach of the peace has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur, in the vicinity of the person or group;
  • that there is, or is about to be, an obstruction to pedestrians or traffic caused by the presence of the person or of others in the vicinity; or
  • that the safety of a person in the vicinity is in danger.

A person who does not obey a police request to stop loitering commits an offence.

Maximum penalty: $1250 or 3 months imprisonment.

[Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) s 18]

Additional loitering offence for prescribed class

If a police officer has reasonable grounds to suspect someone loitering in a public place is of a prescribed class, the officer can request that the person state the reason that they are there. In doing so the officer has to tell the person that a request is being made under section 18 of the Summary Offences Act (SA) and what prescribed class the person belongs to.

Prescribed class includes: people who have been found guilty of a serious and organised crime offence; are a proscribed drug offender; have a firearms or weapons prohibition order; are subject to a control order, non-association order, place restriction order, paedophile restraining order or consorting prohibition notice; or otherwise prescribed under regulations.

Failure to provide a satisfactory reason for being in that place is an offence.

Maximum penalty : $5000 or 3 months imprisonment.

[Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) s 18(3)-(7)]

See also consorting offences in the Law Handbook under - Serious and Organised Crime - Consorting

Loitering  :  Last Revised: Thu Aug 7th 2014
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.