skip to content
Law Handbook banner image

Powers to search for weapons

By metal detector

Police have power to conduct searches for the purpose of detecting weapons offences under the Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA). They may search any person (and the person's property) who is in, or is attempting to enter or leave licensed premises, a declared public place holding an event or car parking area for the patrons of those places [ss 72A(1) and (3)].

In the first instance, the search must be by metal detector only. If the metal detector indicates the likely presence of metal, a police officer may require the person to produce items detected by the metal detector. If the person refuses or fails to produce the items, a police officer may then conduct a search of the person and their property (which need not be by metal detector and may be conducted as if it were a search of a person who is reasonably suspected of having an object, the possession of which is an offence) [s 72A(2)].

Previously police could only conduct a search, in the first instance, of a person if they reasonably suspected that the person had possession of an object which is an offence. They can now conduct these random searches by metal detector.

Special powers to prevent serious violence

Under section 72B of the Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA), a police officer may search people (and the property in their possession) attempting to enter or leave an authorised area. A police officer of or above the rank of Superintendent may authorise an area for a period of up to 24 hours if he or she has reasonable grounds to believe that:

  • an incident of serious violence involving a group or groups of people may take place in the area; and
  • the general search powers are necessary to prevent the incident.

An authorisation cannot be immediately extended without the consent of the Commissioner of Police, who may grant such consent if it is in the public interest to do so [ss 72B(7) and (8)].

Powers to search for weapons  :  Last Revised: Fri Dec 1st 2017
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.