Out of control gatherings FAQs
- What is an ‘out-of-control gathering’ (or party)?
- What steps can I take to prevent my gathering or party getting out of control?
- What can parents do about their children attending parties that might get out of control?
- How do I register a party with Police?
- Will registering a party make any difference to the Police response?
- Should I put up the ‘This party has been registered with the WA Police Force’ poster outside my party?
- Do Police have powers to enter premises and close down a party?
- What offences have been introduced in relation to out of control parties?
- What if I organise a party, take appropriate measures, yet it still gets out of control?
- Can Police seize party equipment or do other things?
- What if the party has been organised by a juvenile without adult permission?
- Where can I get more information about planning a party?
Firstly, the gathering must be of at least 12 people with at least two engaging in specified conduct. Specified conduct includes things like trespassing, damaging property, disorderly conduct, fighting, doing obscene acts, emitting unreasonable noise, throwing objects to harm people, obstructing traffic, being drunk and breaking glass. All these things are well-known by the public to be common elements of parties that have got out of the control of the organisers. Additionally, the gathering or the conduct of those attending (when taken together) must cause or is likely to cause fear or alarm, or interferes with the lawful activities of any person.
What are appropriate steps for an organiser to take will always depend upon the nature of the proposed gathering and what actually occurs at the time of the party or gathering.
As a host, you have a duty of care for the safety and wellbeing of your guests. Here are some matters you may wish to consider:
- Informing yourself on the issues - there’s useful information at the Alcohol.Think Again website which provides resources about alcohol and young people, including a guide on Hosting a Party for Teenagers ( 124kb).
- Making sure the distribution of invitations is carefully controlled so that only invited guests receive these.
- Ensuring invitations are not publicised on social media like Facebook or Twitter.
- Serving alcohol responsibly.
- Engaging security services or having sufficient numbers of responsible adults at the venue to manage the gathering.
- Ringing police immediately when you believe the party is, or likely to, get out of control, or trespassers have entered the premises.
Parents of teenage children should actively monitor where they are at night. Parents can also make direct inquiries with party organisers and ask questions about whether alcohol is intended to be served, if there will be responsible adults present and if security services have been engaged by the organiser.
If juveniles are detained by police for their protection, police will contact the parents to have the children collected.
How do I register a party with Police?
You can register a party online with police by visiting our Hosting a Party page
Registering a party is free and quick. If you don't have access to the internet, you can ring your local police station or 131 444 to register your party. Local police station numbers are in the printed White Pages telephone directory or you can search for your local police.
Registering your party does not in itself mean police will provide security for your party, nor does it represent an invitation for police to come to your home. Police will not attend a registered party unless:
- There’s a specific request to do so either from the party, from a neighbour, or from a concerned parent; or
- It’s in the public interest in order to maintain community order and safety.
The capacity for police to undertake patrols of party venues or respond to an incident at a party venue will depend on other resources at the time and the nature of the incident in question.
Should I put up the ‘This party has been registered with the WA Police Force’ poster outside my party?
When displayed, this poster - which is available here - sends a clear message to people arriving at a party that it has been registered with police and that police have been provided with information about the party should it get out of control. Police believe it is a useful deterrent and warning to those who might plan on gatecrashing a party or otherwise cause trouble in the vicinity of the premises.
Yes, they do. If necessary, police officers may enter premises and may order the organisers to cease the party or gathering and order people there to leave. There may be occasions when police may not need to enter premises (e.g. ordering gatecrashers who are on the street to leave immediately).
There are a number of new offences:
- A person who organises a gathering that becomes an out-of-control gathering commits an offence (maximum penalty: 12 months imprisonment and $12,000 fine).
- A parent, guardian or a person who has responsibility for the day-to-day care of a child under 18 who gives permission to a child to organise a gathering that becomes an out-of-control gathering commits an offence (maximum penalty: 12 months imprisonment and $12,000 fine).
- It is an offence to fail to comply with an order given by a police officer in relation to an out-of-control gathering (maximum penalty: 12 months imprisonment or $12,000 fine). Circumstances of aggravation (e.g. throwing rocks or bottles) in relation to not abiding by an order will attract higher penalties (maximum penalty: 3 years imprisonment or $18,000 fine).
- A person who is convicted of the offence of organising a gathering that became an out-of-control gathering, may also be ordered by the court to pay all or some of the costs incurred by police in attending to the incident.
Police will conduct an investigation into the out-of-control gathering before considering whether to lay charges. As part of the investigation, police will consider whether or not reasonable measures had been taken. If charges are laid, it will be a matter for the court to determine if measures taken by the organiser were appropriate in the circumstances.
Police already have powers under the Environmental Protection Act to enter premises, give noise abatement directions, turn off music and seize musical equipment. The new laws also give them powers to take, or order any person (or group of persons) to take, any reasonable measures to restore peace and good order, protect the safety of any person, or prevent damage to property.
In accordance with existing provisions relating to juveniles, the juvenile may be dealt with for the offence of organising a gathering that became an out-of-control gathering.