Protective Services Officers, who patrol many of Melbourne's train stations from 6pm to the last service, have also been tasked with scanning station car parks for expired registrations, unpaid fines and arrest warrants.
Number-plate details are recorded and checked against Victoria Police's database in a move that has been slammed by Victoria's leading civil liberty group.
Anyone with an outstanding warrant may return to their car to find a sheriff waiting, and their car's wheels clamped.
PSO legislation restricts the areas they can patrol, hence why they target cars parked only in railway station parking lots.
Most Melburnians would be familiar with the sight of the fluoro-vested PSOs standing guard late at night at Melbourne's train stations.
PSOs are required to have regular chats with commuters - seemingly about innocent subjects, but at the end of the chat the commuter's name and address are recorded and entered into the police database. In 2012 almost 30,000 of those names and addresses were recorded by PSOs.
The car-park sweeps go hand-in-hand with a police policy of encouraging PSOs to have regular chats with commuters – and record names, address and details of those conversations.
Commuters have also reported PSOs conducting on-the-spot ID checks of commuters at railway stations.
"As part of their daily duties, Protectives Services Officers regularly check car parks," police spokesman Inspector Darren Cooper said.
"PSOs will be checking for stolen vehicles, outstanding warrants, outstanding whereabouts, unlicensed and unregistered drivers," he said.
"The car park is part of a normal, designated patrol area for PSOs, and by doing these checks, it allows them to further ensure safe travel for those using the public transport system, as well as aiding in Victoria Police's commitment to road safety."
Liberty Victoria spokesman George Georgiou said the policy represented a significant overreach of police powers, and was an unnecessary intrusion into the privacy of Melbourne's commuters.
"Whilst we understand that there is be a need for police to deal with persons avoiding their responsibilities to pay fines, register their cars and the like, we see this move to use PSOs in the manner described in the article as overstepping the legitimate functions of PSOs and unnecessarily encroaching upon the right to privacy and freedom of movement of all Victorian commuters," he said.
theage.com.au 17 Feb2015
A true indication that those who live in Australia are living in a POLICE STATE.
What's the excuse? Maybe Communism? That's so "last millennium" !!
Now it's 'terrorism'.