Authority of Rangers

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Authority of Rangers

Postby Pgr » Wed 02 Jun, 2021 8:06 pm

I recently had a bad experience with a ranger. Can anyone help with the following questions
1. Are Rangers required to disclose they are Rangers when acting in their role.
2. Are Rangers required to clearly show their informs so you know they are rangers.
3. Do rangers have the power of detention.
4. Are rangers permitted to interrogate you.
Fyi I committed no offence but had to endure a very unprofessional ranger with no communication skills
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Re: Authority of Rangers

Postby Son of a Beach » Thu 03 Jun, 2021 8:15 am

With respect to authority of rangers (but not specifically answering any of your listed questions), I remember learning on a high school excursion that rangers (at least in Tasmania) have the authority to search your car on the spot (eg, if they want to check for firearms in a national park). Apparently they do not need a warrant, as police do.

I don't have any authoritative source for this, but that's what the head ranger at Ben Lomond National Park told us on our excursion in grade 11 or 12.
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Re: Authority of Rangers

Postby potato » Thu 03 Jun, 2021 8:34 am

Check the legislation, this part might be a good start: https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/htm ... -080#pt.14
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Re: Authority of Rangers

Postby Xplora » Thu 03 Jun, 2021 8:53 am

Firstly welcome to the forum. It is an interesting question but not sure if this forum is uniquely qualified to answer but I will try to help. There is also much left out of your question which does not make it easy to answer. Circumstance for one. You need to forget first of all anything about uniforms. A uniform of any kind does not necessarily mean the person you are speaking to has any authorisation. Authorised officers are appointed under various Acts to administer those Acts but it may be not all wearing a uniform will be an authorised officer. I take it your issue is with NPWS. The second thing about authorised officers is they remain one even without a wearing the uniform. The authority does not come from the uniform and it can be acted on even if the person is not officially on duty. You are entitled to ask to see the identification of any person claiming to be an authorisied officer regardless of the uniform they wear. That includes Police (who are authorised under every Act).

All specific powers are outlined in the relevant Act the officer administers. Without knowing your experience it is difficult to answer other questions but authorised officers under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 do have the powers of a constable when investigating offences under the Act (Sec 164(c)). If there are reasonable grounds to suspect an offence has been committed then powers are conferred. For the most part, if you are 'interrogated' you are not required to say anything but you must state your name and place of abode if you are asked. Powers to detain are also conferred on constables (and those acting with such power) under certain circumstances. What sort of detention you experienced is not clear. For example, being stopped and spoken to is a form of detention but if it is implied the detention means your freedom to leave has been removed then that is in fact arrest.

So the short answer is yes, a Ranger who is an authorised officer does have power to do those things you have mentioned but the circumstances as to whether the ranger was authorised or whether the ranger acted outside those powers conferred is not one we can decide based on the information provided. If you have a complaint then you can make it to the NSW Ombudsman's office or directly to the NPWS.
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Re: Authority of Rangers

Postby Biggles » Thu 03 Jun, 2021 9:32 am

Bit of an odd story, and very thin on detail.
All of the Rangers I have seen in my travels are uniformed and clearly identifiable as Rangers e.g. in my previous home State of Victoria (Parks Victoria Rangers, of which I have had a 30 year working relationship), ditto New South Wales, Tasmania and Queensland. Are you sure you were being "interrogated" by an actual Ranger, and not by an impersonator?

Rangers carry identification with them, and are required by law to do this. You can ask to see this if it is not plainly visible. Rangers on patrol have the power to inspect campsites and vehicles (especially those of deer hunters), issue fines and directives (e.g. move on or pack up, move away or leave the area), record video or stills (e.g. forced access to restricted areas, illegal campsites or damage to vegetation), interview people, ask for names and addresses and cite which parts of the State's specific laws regarding Public land are being referred to, and why. Rangers do not have power to detain, but can refer-on to Police (by that time a Ranger will have gathered sufficient information about the event to no longer need to be involved once it is handed over to Police).

I think really your first port of call if you doubt you were being spoken to by a Ranger, or have concerns about their conduct, is to contact your own State's Parks management authority where Rangers are attached and run your concerns past them for a detailed personal response.
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Re: Authority of Rangers

Postby Xplora » Thu 03 Jun, 2021 9:43 am

Son of a Beach wrote:With respect to authority of rangers (but not specifically answering any of your listed questions), I remember learning on a high school excursion that rangers (at least in Tasmania) have the authority to search your car on the spot (eg, if they want to check for firearms in a national park). Apparently they do not need a warrant, as police do.

I don't have any authoritative source for this, but that's what the head ranger at Ben Lomond National Park told us on our excursion in grade 11 or 12.


Legislation will vary to some small degree among the states. I am not going to read all the various Acts to determine individual powers in every state and terrritory but whatever powers a ranger (assuming authorised officer) has in any state, the Police will have the same power in the same circumstance in that state. In other words no more power is conveyed to a ranger under the Act they administer than to Police. Like I said earlier, Police have all powers conferred under every Act in the state they are authorised. In general, the power to stop search and detain is usually vested in reasonable cause (as in Sec 164 (1) of the NSW NPWA 1974) to suspect but there may also be specific sections which confer the power at any time without cause. Like I said, I am not going searching for it. My gut feeling is such power without reasonable cause does not exist or is constrained to specific circumstances. Civil libitarians have taken a strong stance on the abuse of powers and especially the powers to stop, search and detain.
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Re: Authority of Rangers

Postby Xplora » Thu 03 Jun, 2021 10:15 am

Biggles wrote:All of the Rangers I have seen in my travels are uniformed and clearly identifiable as Rangers e.g. in my previous home State of Victoria (Parks Victoria Rangers, of which I have had a 30 year working relationship), ditto New South Wales, Tasmania and Queensland. Are you sure you were being "interrogated" by an actual Ranger, and not by an impersonator?


Like I said, the uniform does not a ranger make. Not everyone wearing the uniform with the Parks logo will have the powers of an authorised officer. That is why the next bit of what you say (and what I said before) is important.

Biggles wrote:Rangers carry identification with them, and are required by law to do this. You can ask to see this if it is not plainly visible. Rangers on patrol have the power to inspect campsites and vehicles (especially those of deer hunters), issue fines and directives (e.g. move on or pack up, move away or leave the area), record video or stills (e.g. forced access to restricted areas, illegal campsites or damage to vegetation), interview people, ask for names and addresses and cite which parts of the State's specific laws regarding Public land are being referred to, and why.


But this bit I would take issue with:
Biggles wrote:Rangers do not have power to detain, but can refer-on to Police (by that time a Ranger will have gathered sufficient information about the event to no longer need to be involved once it is handed over to Police).


The power to arrest is clearly conferred upon authorised officers in NSW and that includes NPWS authorised officers (156 B of the NPWA 1974). The Act refers to Chapter 7 of the PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT OPERATIONS ACT 1997 sec 204 when discussing these powers. Then Sec 164 (c) of the NPWA 1974 provides the powers of a constable.

Given the OP is from NSW I am assuming the altercation occurred with a ranger (or alleged ranger) from that state so I have specifically referenced NSW legislation only. If the discussion is to be broadened to included other states then it will get confusing when legislative powers differ and we start talking in broader terms without reference to specific sections of specific Acts in specific states.


Biggles wrote:I think really your first port of call if you doubt you were being spoken to by a Ranger, or have concerns about their conduct, is to contact your own State's Parks management authority where Rangers are attached and run your concerns past them for a detailed personal response.


And this is good advice. Much better than a bunch of randoms like us providing information to be relied upon. No disrespect intended to all us randoms.
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Re: Authority of Rangers

Postby Pgr » Thu 03 Jun, 2021 10:34 am

Thankyou everyone. The information and comments have been very helpful. I kept the details of the incident brief as I wanted not to take up too much of people's time and to focus on the principals of my concerns
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Re: Authority of Rangers

Postby Xplora » Thu 03 Jun, 2021 11:04 am

Son of a Beach wrote:With respect to authority of rangers (but not specifically answering any of your listed questions), I remember learning on a high school excursion that rangers (at least in Tasmania) have the authority to search your car on the spot (eg, if they want to check for firearms in a national park). Apparently they do not need a warrant, as police do.

I don't have any authoritative source for this, but that's what the head ranger at Ben Lomond National Park told us on our excursion in grade 11 or 12.


You got me curious so I looked this up. Probably worth a read here https://www.legislation.tas.gov.au/view ... t-2002-062 Sec 61 onward (Part 4). I think ranger Ben Lomond may have overstated but that could have been a while ago??? Things change.
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Re: Authority of Rangers

Postby Son of a Beach » Thu 03 Jun, 2021 12:14 pm

Xplora wrote:
Son of a Beach wrote:With respect to authority of rangers (but not specifically answering any of your listed questions), I remember learning on a high school excursion that rangers (at least in Tasmania) have the authority to search your car on the spot (eg, if they want to check for firearms in a national park). Apparently they do not need a warrant, as police do.

I don't have any authoritative source for this, but that's what the head ranger at Ben Lomond National Park told us on our excursion in grade 11 or 12.


You got me curious so I looked this up. Probably worth a read here https://www.legislation.tas.gov.au/view ... t-2002-062 Sec 61 onward (Part 4). I think ranger Ben Lomond may have overstated but that could have been a while ago??? Things change.


Yes, about 35 years ago. :-) It's possible he was just trying to scare us into submission.
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Re: Authority of Rangers

Postby roysta » Mon 07 Jun, 2021 6:35 pm

The way I understand it in NSW is that Rangers DO NOT have the authority to detain, only Police have that right.
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Re: Authority of Rangers

Postby ILUVSWTAS » Mon 07 Jun, 2021 7:40 pm

roysta wrote:The way I understand it in NSW is that Rangers DO NOT have the authority to detain, only Police have that right.


Universal to my understanding. Much to the disbelief of many. Even rangers. :lol:
Nothing to see here.
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Re: Authority of Rangers

Postby Xplora » Tue 08 Jun, 2021 8:28 am

ILUVSWTAS wrote:
roysta wrote:The way I understand it in NSW is that Rangers DO NOT have the authority to detain, only Police have that right.


Universal to my understanding. Much to the disbelief of many. Even rangers. :lol:


While I understand it is not the practise generally it is still a power given to authorised officers. Not to be argumentative, I have provided information about the relevant legislation which shows the power exists but you have not provided anything to substantiate your understanding. This is an extract from a NSW government document which deals with many things associated with authorised officers and enforcement officers. It is from the EPA and references Chapter 7 of the PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT OPERATIONS ACT 1997 which is referred to in the NPW Act 1974. These are not my words so if there are other words that expressly provide a ranger (not just a uniform wearer and is an authorised officer) does not have the power to arrest then I would be happy to read it. Having a power and exercising it are two different things. Policy may dictate in the circumstance.


2.9. Powers of arrest

As an authorised officer, you have the power to arrest a person you suspect on reasonable grounds has
committed or is committing an offence
(section 204(1) of the POEO Act) if that person has refused to
state their name or residential address, or has stated a name or address you believe is false (section
204(3) of the POEO Act).
While this power of arrest exists, it should only be used in the most serious circumstances and only:
• if you are appropriately trained

Powers and Notices | 20
• if the situation is safe
• in accordance with your organisation’s policy and procedures for arrest.
You and your organisation are advised to obtain legal advice before exercising this power.


In addition to these powers, any person (you and I included) has the power of arrest if they witness any offence being committed (Sec 100 of the Law Enforcement Act NSW 2002).
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Re: Authority of Rangers

Postby RFG » Sun 04 Jul, 2021 5:28 pm

Pgr wrote:I recently had a bad experience with a ranger. Can anyone help with the following questions
1. Are Rangers required to disclose they are Rangers when acting in their role.
2. Are Rangers required to clearly show their informs so you know they are rangers.
3. Do rangers have the power of detention.
4. Are rangers permitted to interrogate you.
Fyi I committed no offence but had to endure a very unprofessional ranger with no communication skills


Pgr,
As others have said without knowing the full details of your specific incident.
If you are talking in relation to NSW NPWS staff who hold ‘Authorised Officer’ status (it is not just ‘Rangers’ who hold this authority but may be field officers or other staff position designations, then:
1. It is good practice to state who you are and show your authority card, particularly if you are not in uniform or a marked vehicle, but should do so anyway
2. You do not have to be in ‘uniform’ to use your authority, therefore why it is good practice to introduce yourself and show the person your authority card. ( note:you do not have to give the person your authority card)
3. NSW NPWS Authorised Officer do not generally have powers of detention or arrest, but like any other citizen have powers of a ‘Citizens Arrest’, or detention, however a very messy business and unlikely to be ever used by NSW NPWS authorised or other staff. Generally police are called for such matters if it escalates to this. Many Authorised staff do have the authority in certain circumstances to seize certain items or property, as well as search property/ premises or vehicles in certain circumstances, as well as authority to demand information or that person leave the area or park, with failing to follow a reasonable directive from the authorised officer constituting another offence or breach. This for many authorised officers is both under state NP&W acts and regulations as well as NSW POEO Act and commonwealth EPBC legislation and regulations.
4. NSW NPWS authorised Officers can demand Name and Address ‘Interogate ??’ from persons in certain circumstances particularly if in charge of a vehicle, where failure to provide such details or false or misleading information may constitute another offence. Again those authorised under POEO Act and commonwealth EPBC legislation can ask questions of a person where provision of false or misleading information may warrant a further offence. This is very rarely invoked in the field and is more readily used during a formal interview process where other legal and law enforcement staff are involved and formal recording occurs..

Without knowing the ins and outs and details of your situation it may be a case that you have been 1. approached by someone who is not an authorised officer or staff member or for whatever reason is impersonating one, therefore did not identify themselves appropriately. (Not unheard of). 2. been approached by a very junior or inexperienced staff member who is clearly out of their depth. 3. a staff member who is having a very bad day and has handled the situation poorly (again, not unheard of) or 4. We are only hearing your side of the situation? ( There are always 3 sides to every incident). Most NPWS authorised Officer staff apply the ‘attitude test’, and are trained to approach law enforcement with an educational stance using their discretionary powers as to whether a warning, informal, formal, an infringement or further court or enforcement action is warranted and applied. If people are argumentative or show genuine disrespect for the authorised officer as opposed to being honest and demonstrating genuine ignorance or remorse for the offence that they may have just committed then you are likely to walk away with an infringement or further action than a formal or informal warning.

Again, very hard to provide feedback on your particular issue or situation, but suggest that if you have a genuine complaint as to how you have been dealt with that you approach the local office concerned both informally and or formally in writing, and or the Ombudsman’s Office as others have suggested, but would first consider some of the feedback I have provided above and whether one of this circumstances may apply.

Hope that helps.
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Re: Authority of Rangers

Postby CaptainC » Thu 22 Jul, 2021 2:07 pm

Did a search for Victoria and just found this fairly vague information,
https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/get-into-n ... nforcement

Compliance and enforcement

The great majority of visitors to parks and reserves respect the environment and look after the facilities provided. Unfortunately, a small number do act in ways that have a negative impact on the environment or affect the enjoyment of others.

To reduce this behaviour many Parks Victoria staff are given authority under state legislation to enforce park regulations. This can involve enforcing legislation by responding to public complaints, conducting investigations, issuing fines and prosecuting cases through the courts.


Reporting problems

Information from members of the public can help prevent our environment and park infrastructure from damage.

If you observe anyone causing damage to any park infrastructure such as buildings, gates or barriers or any other criminal activity such as theft from motor vehicles contact police on ‘000’.

If you have any information regarding environmental offences in a park such as damage to vegetation, cutting of firewood, carriage of firearms or taking of wildlife contact Parks Victoria on 13 1963 or email info@parks.vic.gov.au.

For all offences it is most helpful to record vehicle details and registration numbers, an accurate description of any offenders and as precise details as possible of the location of any offence.


Use of concealed cameras on public land for compliance activities

Parks Victoria does use concealed camera technology on public land and in marine protected areas for the purpose of gathering evidence and information of people committing alleged offences. These offences include habitat destruction, theft of forest produce, illegal fishing and hunting activities, wildlife poaching, and rubbish dumping.

Concealed camera operations are run according to strict procedures and cameras are only installed by authorised officers at specific locations where alleged offences have been reported.

All concealed cameras are installed within the requirements of the Surveillance Devices Act 1999 and all information captured by cameras is handled in accordance with the Information Privacy Act 2000.

Images of a private nature not relevant to the alleged offences detected are destroyed.
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Re: Authority of Rangers

Postby Kickinghorse » Thu 22 Jul, 2021 10:09 pm

Boggles wrote
Bit of an odd story, and very thin on detail.


And yes thin on where you fit into this scenario. Well meaning responses to your view of events but having met with many Parks staff, I for one have found them to be great to talk to and deal with. Would like to hear more re your experience. Or is it a case heard often in my teaching career of “I didn’t do nuffing sir”
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