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Canberra Today 15°/21° | Friday, February 23, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Increase penalties, says union, after officer assault

Police association president Alex Caruana… “No one comes to work to be assaulted.” Photo: Belinda Strahorn
THE Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) is calling on the ACT government to review the penalties for assaults to frontline community service providers following the assault of a police officer that resulted in his hospitalisation, the loss of five teeth and other facial injuries.
AFPA President Alex Caruana said the alleged offender was initially stopped by police, who believed he was in breach of bail conditions.  The man ran away when questioned and was apprehended after a short foot pursuit. During his arrest, the man seriously assaulted a police officer.
Assaults on police and other emergency services workers were becoming too frequent, often resulting in mental and physical injuries that had a long-term impact on the victim.
“Police officers are frequently victims of assault, and to be frank, I suspect it’s an under-reported offence. My members are telling me that assaults are becoming much more frequent and often more violent than in past years.
“Police are there to do a job. No one comes to work to be assaulted.  We wouldn’t accept this in any other workplace, so why should it be acceptable for people to believe they can assault police officers?”
Caruana said the penalties in Section 26A of the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT), “assault of frontline community service provider”, legislates a maximum penalty of just two years’ imprisonment.
The penalty wasn’t an effective deterrent for people assaulting police officers and other frontline service providers.
“Since the introduction of this offence, I will almost guarantee that not one person convicted of this offence has received close to the maximum penalty,” he said.
“We’ve actually seen people receive monetary fines for assaulting police. How can a simple fine, with no other penalty or caveat – especially any kind of apology to the victim or commitment to good behaviour – provide a deterrent to protect frontline service providers in the ACT?
“With the ACT election on the horizon, we’ll be calling on all political parties to commit to a review of the penalties in Section 26A of the Crimes Act and an independent bail and sentencing review.”

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