A PUSH to introduce harsher penalties for those who assault police officers and emergency service personnel has been brought to light in a bid to improve the safety of those serving the community.
The NSW Sentencing Council has been asked to review the sentencing for offences involving assaults on police officers, correctional and youth justice officers, emergency services workers and health workers, with a focus on deterrence.
Complementing the existing Parliamentary Inquiry announced by Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott, which examines the motivation driving these attacks, the review has been backed by Riverina Police District Commander Superintendent Bob Noble.
Having experiences of his own at the receiving end of assault, Superintendent Noble said the region was familiar with violent attacks.
"Police across the Riverina Police District are all too often subjected to assault - sometimes extremely brutal and completely unprovoked attacks," he said.
"Of course in such instances, we do everything we can to firstly ensure the wellbeing of the officer, but also we put the offender before the court."
Superintendent Noble said it was natural for victims to feel like more needs to be done.
"Yes, there are times where police as victims are unhappy with outcomes at court," he said.
"This is not uncommon with victims of all sorts of crimes."
But he, himself, knew how that felt.
"I've personally been assaulted a number of times and even hospitalised for lengthy periods and required significant surgery and rehab from a serious assault on duty," Superintendent Noble said.
"Was I happy with the sentence the accused received? No, not really. I wanted the judge to throw away the key."
In other news:
The Sentencing Council has been asked to consider a number of factors as part of the review, including:
- Recent trends in assaults on these workers and in sentencing decisions;
- Characteristics of offenders, including characteristics of reoffending offenders;
- Sentencing options to deter this behaviour;
- Sentencing options to reduce reoffending;
- A comparison of NSW sentencing decisions for assaults on these workers with equivalent sentencing decisions in other Australian jurisdictions;
- A comparison of NSW sentencing decisions for assaults on these workers with equivalent sentencing decisions for assaults generally;
- Sentencing principles applied by NSW courts; and
- Any other matter the Council considers relevant.
Superintendent Noble said, while it was a serious issue and one which needed immediate attention, there was always a silver lining.
"The upside to this, of course, is that it gives us as police valuable insight as to how violent crime impacts victims," he said.
"This makes us better police.
"As always, as cops, we take the bad with the good and just get on with the job."