'A Very expensive lesson': counting the costs of penalty notices for anti-social behaviour

Elyse Methven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In March 2014, the New South Wales Government dramatically increased penalty notice amounts for a number of summary offences. The fine increases were part of the Government's alcohol- and drug-fuelled violence initiatives, introduced in response to recent 'one-punch' homicides. This comment examines the use of penalty notices, or 'on-the-spot' fines, for the minor offences of offensive conduct, offensive language and the continuation of intoxicated and disorderly behaviour following a move-on direction. It considers the potential impact of these new fines on vulnerable and minority groups, particularly Aboriginal Australians. The comment questions whether police, as opposed to judicial officers, are the appropriate arbitrators for complex (albeit minor) offences that involve ill-defined elements such as offensiveness, community standards and the reasonable person test. It also asks whether these measures will be effective in fulfilling their stated aim to decrease alcohol-fuelled violence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-257
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Issues in Criminal Justice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • penalty notices
  • criminal infringement notices
  • mental illness
  • offensive language
  • offensive conduct
  • disorderly
  • intoxication
  • police powers
  • police discretion
  • Aboriginal Australians
  • homelessness


Dive into the research topics of ''A Very expensive lesson': counting the costs of penalty notices for anti-social behaviour'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this