Assaults on police cause pain, injury, trauma and frustration for all police officers. It also results in lost time as injured officers are forced to miss work.
The rate of assaults on police in NSW is falling and is lower than most other jurisdictions in Australia, showing that efforts to protect police officers have had an impact.
However the PANSW continues to advocate to the NSW Government and community that the number of assaults on police is still too high, and more needs to be done to protect police and hold offenders accountable.
Protecting police, reducing assaultsThe NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Assaults on members of the NSW Police Force was carried out by the Legislative Assembly Committee on Law and Safety.
The PANSW presented evidence to the Committee regarding:
- Risk factors that increase the likelihood of assaults on police,
- The impact of assaults on police officers,
- The burden on the NSWPF,
- Strategies which have had success in reducing assaults on police, and
- The inadequate sentences handed down to offenders.
The PANSW President Tony King and Research Officer Dr Kate Linklater also gave evidence in person at a hearing of the Committee, and a transcript of that Hearing is available on the Committee webpage.
As a result of our advocacy, the Committee made a number of valuable recommendations to protect police, including:
Preparing and supporting police: the NSW Police Force -
- review the adequacy of current assistance provided to police officers who have been assaulted,
- investigate a period of service learning for new recruits before commencing duties on patrol, and
- consider resilience training for new recruits to prepare them for hostile or challenging real life scenarios.
- be provided with additional resources to cover police officers on WHS leave as a result of an assault, and
- consider options to create a reserve pool to backfill temporary vacancies.
Prevent offenders who assault police from reoffending -
- Corrective Services NSW and Juvenile Justice develop an offender education program targeted at adult and juvenile offenders convicted of an assault police offence, and
- consideration be given to establishing a violent offender register for people identified as having a propensity for violence.
- increase the current mental health training provided to police officers,
- review (with NSW Health) the effectiveness of the memorandum of understanding, with particular attention given to clarifying the lead agency, and
- evaluate current training in communication skills and de-escalation strategies to assess whether improvements are required to deliver best practice training.
- the NSW Police Force be provided with resources to fund additional School Liaison Police Officers and Youth Liaison Officers,
- the NSW Government allocate additional funding to support building respectful relationships between police, children and young people, particularly targeted at primary school aged children,
- the NSW Police Force be provided with additional resources to support officer attendance at PCYC activities, and
- the NSW Police Force review current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural awareness training to ensure best practice training is being provided.
Holding offenders accountablePolice officers suffer significant harm as a result of the aggression, abuse and violence
frequently directed towards them. Every assault on a police officer affects the victim officer, their colleagues, and the entire policing family.
Therefore all police closely follow the sentencing outcomes for offenders who have assaulted themselves or their colleagues, and are strongly invested in sentencing outcomes as a measure of the support given to them by the courts and the
Therefore the PANSW submitted to the NSW Sentencing Council that NSW should:
- increase he maximum sentence available for assault police offences,
- introduce mandatory minimum non-parole periods for assaults causing harm to police officers, and
- require offenders to complete education programs designed to make their treatment of emergency services personnel respectful.
The PANSW is incredibly disappointed with the response of the Sentencing Council. It made no recommendations relating to sentencing of offenders who assault police.
The PANSW will continue to advocate to Government and Parliament to make sentencing of offenders who assault police just, and protect the men and women in blue while they protect us.