Face Coverings

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In November 2013, the Western Australian Government passed the Criminal Investigation (Identifying People) Amendment Act 2013 (CIIPA). A new power has been inserted into section 16 of the CIIPA. The purpose of the new power in the CIIPA is to enable Police Officers to require a person to remove a face covering or do any other thing reasonably necessary to enable the Police Officer to see the person's face for identification purposes.

The media has focused on this legislative amendment as being the "Burqa law" as the Western Australia Police Force reviewed its identifying people powers after a highly publicised incident involving a woman wearing a Burqa in New South Wales. It was found that there were some situations and deficiencies in Western Australian law that limited police ability to properly identify people.

Those deficiencies have been addressed by this amendment.

The Law

Section 16(4A) CIIPA provides a power for police to request the removal or adjustment of a face covering worn by the person, or to request the person do any other reasonable thing necessary to enable the officer to see the person's face or verify the correctness of any personal detail given.


Face covering has a very broad definition and includes any thing worn by a person that totally or partially covers the person's face. Examples include hats, helmets, and sunglasses or face masks. It could include a person who is wearing face paint or makeup that changes the appearance of the person or conceals an identifying feature of the person's face.

Need some more information? You may find the answer you're looking for in our frequently asked questions about face coverings.

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