A patient Lake Illawarra Police officer has had a confrontational conversation with two Kiama Heights residents during a routine COVID-19 compliance check.
In a now viral video on social media, leading senior constable Alex Reilly introduces himself and starts talking to a man and a woman in relation to self-isolation requirements on Tuesday about 1.30pm
The video was shot from the occupants' perspective who remained behind a screen door.
They can be heard asking the officer for his full name, badge number, personal liability insurance and business card.
"I can give you my name and my address which is the police station, which is what I'm required to do," Snr Con Reilly said.
The woman asked if the officer was aware he was "currently trespassing on private property" and asked if he saw a no trespassing sign at the top of the driveway.
The officer started writing down information, and the woman confirmed four police officers had been to the house.
The man then interrupted the officer and wanted him to finish writing down his details before he asked more questions, despite the officer already identifying himself.
"Can you please just give me your business card with your name, proving to me who are who you say you are, before we continue any further," the man said.
"What I have said already and what I am dressed in, is not enough for you?" Snr Con Reilly responded.
The man continued to ask the officer to write down his details and would not answer more questions.
The pair again asked the officer for his personal indemnity insurance number.
"You are registered and you all have your own insurance. If we want to make a claim against your insurance for unlawful trespass, then we will contact your insurance company," the woman said.
"That would be NSW Police insurance, would it not?" the officer said.
"You have your own policy. We are not going after NSW Police, we are going after you, because you are the person who walked onto my lot...without consent."
Snr Con Reilly asked the man to listen to him but the man continues to interrupt and ask for his details.
"That's the third time I've asked you," the man said.
The pair said they wanted the details in writing and would "go after" him for trespassing on their lot.
The officer remained calm and told them they could make a complaint through the police station, but the pair again said they wanted to make a complaint directly about the officer.
Snr Con Reilly asked if they intended to answer the questions about the COVID compliance check.
"We are refusing to answer your questions," the woman said.
He then left the door and walked up the property towards the road and is followed out by the man as he wanted the officer to look at the trespass sign.
"I have a lawful reason to be on your property," Snr Con Reilly said. "An unlawful reason" the man replies before the officer leaves.
A NSW Police Force spokeswoman said the officer announced his office to the occupants of the home - a 36-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman - who refused to provide details or respond to COVID-compliance questions.
"After numerous failed attempts to obtain basic information, the officer left the home and reported the incident to his supervisor," she said.
"Police will continue to conduct proactive visits to homes and businesses throughout the Illawarra, and across the state, to ensure compliance with all orders under the Public Health Act."
Wollongong criminal law specialist Matthew Ward said the video was an example of tensions between two competing rights including the property rights of the individual and the power and duty of NSW Police to investigate and monitor the safety of the public.
"In criminal law, we are seeing an increased use of videos by members of the public to capture interactions with the police," he said.
"We are also seeing an increased use of video footage by the police themselves, with the previous roll out of body worn cameras.
"Sometimes such video evidence is the only way to truly know what happened. Such videos paint more than a 1000 words.
"However, even the use of technology in certain situations, such as recording a private telephone conversation, can be a criminal offence in itself."
Mr Ward said more broadly, as a community, we have to recognise the NSW Police are given certain powers, by the parliament, ultimately to try and benefit the community.
"This can include powers to search, stop, arrest or even ask someone for their identification. However, there are limits on such powers and they can only be used when certain criteria are met," he said.
"The proper use of such powers can often depend on the circumstances. There is no simple answer or formula to calculate whether someone is acting lawfully or unlawfully.
"If a police officer acts outside of the powers given to them by the law, then they can be committing an offence the same as anyone else in our community."
NSW Police may issue a penalty notice of $1000 to someone who is not complying with the self-isolation order or the quarantine order.
For individuals, the maximum court penalty is $11,000, or imprisonment for 6 months, or both with a further $5500 for each day the offence continues.
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