A big thank you to the five Queensland Police Representatives (pictured above with ABGC deputy chair Leon Collins) and Biosecurity Queensland who met with Cassowary Coast growers at South Johnstone last Friday to give advice on prosecuting people who trespass onto their farms.
The meeting was organised by ABGC following recent concerns over an increase in trespassing on banana farms around Innisfail and Tully – including pig hunters and tourists entering properties; as well as other unrelated incidents of theft and wilful damage.
Queensland Police has urged growers to report all incidents of trespass to police, so they can investigate and have the best chance of prosecuting offenders. This information will also allow police to establish whether there are any patterns of illegal activity.
· To enter private land (including private roads and easements) a person must have permission from the owner. If they don’t, it’s trespass and they can be prosecuted.
· Having ‘No Trespassing’ or ‘Private Property’ signs helps police prosecute.
· A landholder has the right to ask a person for their name and address if they are found trespassing on their land.
· Any person using gazetted ‘stock routes’ must have a permit.
Key actions for growers:
· Report ALL incidents/evidence of trespass to police. Big and small (e.g. a photo of a cut fence or a vehicle registration number). Police need to build a picture of what is happening and all pieces of evidence add up. If it is not reported, they can’t investigate and potentially prosecute.
· All incidents of illegal trespass should be reported directly to your local police station, not Police Link.
· Signage – If your land is fenced, you don’t generally need ‘No Trespassing’ or ‘Private Property’ signage, as a fence indicates a boundary, and crossing that boundary constitutes trespass. However, where there is no fence, ‘No Trespassing’ or ‘Private Property’ signage should be erected. This is to negate any excuse for someone entering your property without permission. Essentially, the offender cannot use the excuse, ‘I didn’t know this was private land’.
· Set up trail cameras where you can.
Biosecurity Queensland representatives were also present at Friday’s meeting and are now planning a targeted information campaign, aimed at tourists illegally entering properties (see more details below).
ABGC Deputy Chair Leon Collins has led the management of this serious issue, which poses a real threat of spreading Panama Tropical Race 4. He continues to meet with local authorities such as Cassowary Coast Council and police – and has helped drive home the message to the general public through local media.