Today’s correspondent writes because:

Recently in metropolitan Perth WA , an individual has presented himself as a ‘Hazard Response’ service. He has the business names of ‘Dixon’s Hazard Response’, ‘Community Watch‘ and ‘Dixon’s Lift and Shift’.  His Facebook page says:

“Every wonder what my service list is. This is the list approved by the police and local councils.


– Transporting dog, cat and other animal to a vet and check for chip on site.

This service is where I transport an animal to a vet. Not everyone can do it and city assist are not 24/7 but this service is usually only done when I find an animal. As lots of people can usually deal with it themselves.


– Attend uncontrolled livestock (E.G., horses, sheep and pets walking on the road) and provide emergency traffic control.

This has been done when we have seen a dog or sheep walking on the road. We use our amber lights and control the traffic. The same way I would if I were at work (doing traffic control). I do this until city assist or police can help.


– litter and Illegal dumping complaints,

we make sure they are safe and won’t harm road users or wildlife and then report to the local rangers. I report all illegal dumping to the local rangers via snap, send, solve.


– Animal Searches and rescues (SARs)

If you are missing your pet, I can go out and help look for it.  I am a volunteer for the RSPCA.


– Removing and transporting deceased animals from the road.

If I see a large wild animal dead in the middle of the road (Kangaroos, foxes etc) I’ll remove it to the side of the road out of way for road users. If I see a pet looking animal (Cat, Dog etc) I’ll check for a chip and transport to a local vet.


– Hazard or Debris Removals

Removing Hazards from WA roads. These hazards can include but not limited to Traffic control signs and cones, Tree branches, Chairs, Big Rocks (the rocks can be the size of a person head or bigger, if my car hit that, it would put a big dint in it), card bored boxes, tyres, car bumpers, Cushions, trolleys and much more.

Hazards listed are some of the actually hazards I’ve removed.


– Cutting down trees that have fallen on the road and are a risk to road users

Cutting down trees, Size dependent. For example (actually event) responded to a call about a that had fallen on the road blocking the north traffic on a single lane road. I set up emergency road closure by using my Ute to block the lane (with amber lights on) and set up cones so it was clear what was being done. I than set up a hazard traffic control sign 45 meters up the road as per the main roads traffic control rule book and went to work cutting this tree down. It was a small tree.


– Emergency Traffic management until we can be relieved (e.g. Broken Down cars, Car Crashes, Hazards)

If I see a broken-down car or car crash that is blocking a lane, I can close that lane and move traffic or do what is needed to prevent further emergency.


respond and report abandoned Vehicles

This is where I respond to abandoned Vehicle (more than 48hours) or I respond to vehicles marked hazardously. I report all vehicles to either the police or council depending on the situation.

I questioned him on what insurance he has either personal indemnity and/or public liability.  The reply was that the police told him he doesn’t need it.

He also wears a body camera, has [yellow or amber] warning lighting on his vehicle claiming he has a permit and a uniform that resembles a public officer.

My questions or concern is that given the person has no insurance:

(1) Would his actions classed as

a) a ‘Good Samaritan’

b) Impersonation of a Public Officer as defined by the Crimes Act Criminal Code Compilation Act and Criminal Investigation Act [(WA)];

c) Impersonation of a General Inspector as defined by the Animal Welfare Act

d) acting as a authorised person under the Dog Act 1976 and Dog Act Regulations

e) acting as an authorised person under livestock Provisions XX of the Local Government Act

f) closing roads without the authority of MRWA and acting without delegated authority.

(2) If not, what are the legal implications of his actions either Criminal or civil?

(3) Is the use of a body camera during his ‘incident response’ lawful under the circumstances?

To the best of my knowledge, no local government authority had approved … delegated authority from the CEO, the appointment as a Animal Welfare Inspector by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, as an appointed Wildlife Officer of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions – Parks and Wildlife Service however he by his admission and by his actions that he wilfully conducting himself within that capacity. 

My concern is that he is interfering with the functions of the relevant statuary authorities and authorised volunteer organisations and will cause an incident that may result in injury or death in the future.

I think it is interesting that peope believe that the police can approve anything; if police say ‘it’s ok’ then it is. I imagine what happened is that he went to police and asked about providing those services and the police said something like ‘we cannot see any offence’ but that is not the same as an approval. If the conduct is contrary to law a ‘police approval’ won’t change that.  And never take legal advice from police. Whether police say you need insurance or not is irrelevant.  Get sued and say ‘the police said I didn’t need insurance’ and you’ll still be liable.  I therefore ignore any claim that the police have approved or said anything.

Further, whether he does, or does not have insurance will not determine the legality of his actions. The questions and concerns expressed by my correspondent should arise regardless of whether or not there is insurance.

Resilient communities

The modern trend in risk management is to encourage resilient communities. The National Strategy for Disaster Resilience (COAG, 2011) says:

Disaster resilience is based on individuals taking their share of responsibility for preventing, preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters. They can do this by drawing on guidance, resources and policies of government and other sources such as community organisations.

The disaster resilience of people and households is significantly increased by active planning and preparation for protecting life and property, based on an awareness of the threats relevant to their locality. It is also increased by knowing and being involved in local community disaster or emergency management arrangements, and for many being involved as a volunteer.

It is a truism in emergency management that ‘first responders are always local’.  The first responders at a car accident are the other drivers, at a building collapse it’s the neighbours, at a cardiac arrest its the bystander who can start CPR. The emergency services are (nearly) always second on scene.

In that sense this person is being an active citizen. Agencies like the SES are built on that idea. Members of the community volunteer to provide services to their community. Sure they are trained and uniformed but the fundamental principle is that members of a community form together to help their community. This person’s actions are not significantly different save that he is acting on his own.

The Questions

Let me then turn to the questions asked

(1) Would his actions classed as 

(a) ‘Good Samaritan’

It’s been said before that there is no legislation actually called the ‘Good Samaritan’ Act but that title is familiar shorthand for legislation in every jurisdiction. In Western Australia the relevant provisions are in the Civil Liability Act 2002 (WA) and the Volunteers and Food and Other Donors (Protection from Liability) Act 2002 (WA). The Civil Liability Act s 5AB says that a good Samaritan is ‘a natural person who, acting without expectation of payment or other consideration, comes to the aid of a person who is apparently in need of emergency assistance’. Emergency assistance means

(a)        emergency medical assistance; or

(b)        any other form of assistance to a person whose life or safety is endangered in a situation of emergency;

None of the services described on the website would fit that definition. Dealing with hazards, rescuing animals etc is not providing assistance ‘to a person’.  Even if debris on the road may be a hazard to road users generally, this is still not assistance to ‘a person’. 

If he stopped to assist at a road accident or medical emergency then that would fit the definition.  He’s acting without ‘expectation of payment or other consideration’ so I can see no reason why that provision would not apply.

The Volunteers and Food and Other Donors (Protection from Liability) Act 2002 provides that a person who does voluntary work for a community organisation is not personally liable for any fault, but he community organisation is (ss 6 and 7). It does not appear that this person is working for a community organisation. As he says ‘Dixon’s Hazard Response is just made up of me’

The answer to the first question is that most of the services listed would not be ‘good Samaritan’ assistance but if he stopped to provide direct assistance to an identifiable person whose life or safety was endangered, it could be.

(b) Impersonation of a Public Officer as defined by the Crimes Act Criminal Code Compilation Act;

The Criminal Code (WA) (set out in Appendix B to the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 (WA)), s 87 says:

(1)        For the purposes of this section a person impersonates a public officer if the person —

(a)        wears what is or purports to be the uniform of a public officer; or

(b)        represents himself or herself by word or conduct to be a public officer,

when the person is not such a public officer.

The term public officer includes (s 1) ‘a police officer’, a person exercising authority under a written law’, ‘a public service officer or employee within the meaning of the Public Sector Management Act 1994’, ‘a member, officer or employee of any authority, board, corporation, commission, local government, council of a local government, council or committee or similar body established under a written law’ and ‘any other person holding office under, or employed by, the State of Western Australia, whether for remuneration or not’.

It does not appear from the web site that he is claiming to be any of those officers. The closest is the claim that his list of approved services is ‘approved by the police and local councils’. That would not suggest that he is making any claim to be a police officer or a council employee. As far as I can see he is not wearing a uniform that has state badges or looks like a state agency uniform.  That does not mean in any particular case, depending on what is said and done that he may, in a particular case, impersonate a public officer but I cannot see, based on the websites, that there is any attempt to claim to be a public officer.

© Impersonation of a General Inspector as defined by the Animal Welfare Act

There is no specific impersonation offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA).  General inspectors have certain powers eg an inspector may ‘provide to an animal … any food, water, shelter, care or treatment the inspector considers necessary to ensure the welfare, safety and health of the animal.’  That is clearly not an exclusive power. Anyone can provide food, water and shelter to an animal that is necessary for the animal’s well-being. The difference is that an inspector can impound an animal. Dixon’s Hazard Response could not enter someone’s property to take care of their neglected animal but he does not claim he will. He says he will help find lost or stray animals and take care of them as anyone could and should.

(d) acting as a authorised person under the Dog Act 1976 and Dog Act Regulations

Again, I cannot see, from the website, that he is purporting to act as an authorised person as defined by the Dog Act 1976 (WA). If he finds a stray animal, he’ll take it to a vet (Service 1) and if he’s asked he’ll help an owner locate their pet (Service 4).  I don’t think anyone needs any legal authority to do those things that are basic community cooperation.

(e) acting as an authorised person under livestock Provisions XX of the Local Government Act

I cannot find provisions labelled ‘XX’ or ‘livestock provisions’ in the Local Government Act 1995 (WA) but I suspect my answer would be above. Warning others of the dangers of livestock on the road until council or police can attend (Service 2) is not ‘acting as an authorised person’.

(f) closing roads without the authority of MRWA and acting without delegated authority.

That’s a more interesting question but as I’ve noted before, there’s a difference between closing roads and warning people of hazards on the road, even if that means the road is impassable (see Self help road closures (October 14, 2018)).  It may be an offence to close a road but at an accident anyone can direct traffic. If I pull up at a car accident I can certainly direct traffic around the accident. Other driver’s may not be obliged to obey me, but they probably would. But one doesn’t need any particular authority to say ‘mate don’t drive down there, it’s blocked’ or to park in front of a hazard and turn on the hazard lights or remove a hazard from the road. Again, isn’t that just community spirit?

(2) If not, what are the legal implications of his actions either Criminal or civil?

I cannot see, from the website that he’s committing any offences (though that would depend on his particular conduct in any particular case).  But the description of what he’s doing do not suggest to me anything for which legal authority is required or anything that is prohibited by the criminal law.

If he negligently causes loss or damage then he could be liable to compensate anyone who suffers that loss or damage.

(3) Is the use of a body camera during his ‘incident response’ lawful under the circumstances?

Generally filming in public is not unlawful (see; and see, in particular, Bystanders photographing an emergency (February 2, 2016)). The Surveillance Devices Act 1998 (WA) s 6 says that a person must not use an ‘optical surveillance device’ to:

(a) to record visually or observe a private activity to which that person is not a party; or

(b) to record visually a private activity to which that person is a party.

It seems to me that every interaction he’s recording he is a party to so s 6 is not infringed.

If someone wants to get out and film what they are doing, they are allowed to do so.

Flashing lights

The only legal issue (putting aside what might happen at specific incidents) that I can see is the fitting of flashing yellow lights to the car. The Road Traffic (Vehicle Standards) Rules 2002 (WA) r 112(3) says that ‘vehicle must not display — (a) a light that flashes’. Regulation 112(4) says ‘a special use vehicle may be fitted with one or more  flashing  yellow lights…’. A ‘special use’ vehicle is (112(1)) ‘a vehicle built or fitted for use in hazardous situations on a road’.

Dixon’s Hazard Response website suggests that he has an ordinary car, so it is not ‘built’ for use in hazardous situations, nor, apart from the lights does it appear to be ‘fitted’ for use in hazardous situations. The operator may argue that the lights are indeed fitted for and only used in hazardous situations on the road and the vehicle is therefore a ‘special use’ vehicle. The problem with that argument is that it’s circular reasoning – only a special use vehicle can have flashing lights and we know this is a special use vehicle because it has flashing amber lights – but it has to be a special use vehicle before it can be fitted with flashing yellow lights.  Clearly r 112(3) does not expect that anyone can fit a flashing yellow light and therefore make their vehicle a special use vehicle. The reference to ‘built or fitted’ would imply to me that there has to be some other alterations to the standard vehicle, other than fitting an amber light bar, to make it a ‘special use vehicle’.

Fire and Emergency Services Act 1998 (WA)

Section 38B(2) says:

Unless authorised under an emergency services Act or in writing by the FES Commissioner, a person must not —

(a) use any name, title, description or symbol that expresses or implies an association with the Department; or

(b) otherwise represent that the person is associated with the Department.

Some might argue that the name Dixson’s Hazard Response implies an association with the Department. That would be clearer if it was Dixson’s Emergency Response.

Section 38C creates an offence to ‘falsely represent, by words or conduct’ that a person is a member of one of the emergency services including a volunteer fire brigade or the SES.  Again I cannot see from the website that he’s doing that but again, in particular circumstances (rather than generally) his conduct may give rise to a ‘representation’ that he is a member of the emergency services. That would depend on particular circumstances but it is not apparent from the website.


I can understand my correspondent’s concerns that the operator of Dixon’s Hazard Response is may ‘cause an incident that may result in injury or death’ or interfere with the operation of the statutory emergency services.  Despite that concern, and based on what’s reported on the website, apart from the possibility that the fitting of yellow light bar to the car may be illegal, I cannot see that providing any of the services listed is unlawful or requires particular authority.

This blog is made possible with generous financial support from the Australasian College of Paramedicine, the Australian Paramedics Association (NSW), Natural Hazards Research Australia, NSW Rural Fire Service Association and the NSW SES Volunteers Association. I am responsible for the content in this post including any errors or omissions. Any opinions expressed are mine, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or understanding of the donors.