Report a nuisance or disturbance
What is a disturbance?
A disturbance could include:
- assault or threat of assault
- use of threatening or abusive language
- behaviour that is uncontrolled, violent, disorderly, indecent, offensive or threatening
- behaviour that causes a substantial, unreasonable annoyance or disruption
- willful damage to property.
How to report a nuisance or disturbance
You should only call Triple Zero (000) if:
- a crime is happening now
- a life is threatened
- the event is time critical, such as a fire.
Report it online
Police officers can issue infringement notices for public nuisance offences, such as:
- disorderly behaviour
- offensive behaviour
- threatening behaviour
- violent behaviour
- offensive or threatening language
- public urination
- obstructing a police officer
- not stating your correct name and address when asked by a police officer.
The fine is usually $100–300.
Officers use discretion when dealing with public nuisance offences and aim to diffuse the incident. They will issue an infringement notice for public nuisance as an alternative when the offender would otherwise have to go to court for the offence.
Police officers will use the same infringement notices that they use for traffic offences with the same options—you can either pay a fine or choose to go to court. (If you pay the fine, you won’t have a conviction on your criminal record.)
Police powers in a disturbance
A police officer can take whatever steps they think are necessary to prevent a public disturbance.
If the person making the disturbance disobeys a police direction, they can be charged with an offence.
If a person is unreasonably making excessive noise that is affecting you in your home or workplace nearby, you can report it to the police, who can tell them to stop making the noise.
This includes noise from musical instruments, electronic sound and amplifying systems, and even noise from a party may be ‘excessive’ in some circumstances.
If police tell someone to stop making excessive noise (known as a ‘noise abatement direction’) that person must stop making noise immediately. This direction lasts for 96 hours.
If the person continues to make noise or starts making noise again in that 96-hour period, tell the police and they may take more serious action. Police can take the property used to make the noise (e.g. a guitar or amplifier), lock it up, make it inoperable or even remove it for 24 hours.
The offender can be fined up to $1,000 for disobeying this order.
Move on powers
Police have ‘move on’ powers and can order people to move on from public places, such as shops, childcare centres, schools, licensed premises, railway stations, malls, South Bank in Brisbane, automatic teller machines and war memorials.
Police will use these powers if a person is:
- causing anxiety to people entering or leaving a place
- interfering with trade or business
- disrupting an event or gathering
- being disorderly, indecent, offensive or threatening.
Find out how you can contact police.