Rights and Responsibilites when Interacting with Police and Security Guards

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Police, security guards and members of the public have certain rights and responsibilities. If you have contact with the police or security guards and want to know more about your rights, please contact:

Legal Aid Helpline
1300 654 314
Mon – Fri 8.30am to 5.00pm.

Aboriginal Legal Service
1800 765 767

ACT Human Rights Commission
6205 2222

Under Arrest?

Police can’t:

  • stop you for no reason
  • strip search you for no reason
  • use unreasonable force against you

Police can:

  • use reasonable force in some circumstances
  • search you if you are under arrest or if they suspect you are carrying a weapon
  • ask you to leave a public place if they think you have been or will be, violent
  • tell you to stay away from a place up to 6 hours

Are you under Arrest?

Police must tell you if you are under arrest, and why

If you are arrested


  • go to the police station
  • give your name and address
  • ask why you are being arrested
  • ask police to contact a lawyer and family or friend.


  • resist arrest
  • be abusive
  • answer questions except to give your name and address

If you are not under arrest you do not have to answer questions and you are free to go.

Security Guards can’t:

  • search you or your belongings without your permission
  • take your things
  • ban you from a public place

Security Guards can:

  • ask you to leave a shopping centre if you are not following the rules
  • make a ‘citizen’s arrest’ if they think that you have committed a crime. They should tell you that you are “under arrest”
  • use reasonable force against you if you are resisting arrest
  • ban you from a private place. If they do this, leave straight away and get legal advice