Page 4098 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 15 November 2005
themselves on the line, step forward and break up trouble, their families are not going to be victimised by the fact that they have had to do something somewhat difficult. A policeman must have confidence that he and his family, particularly his family, are going to be quite safe in the knowledge that he, the policeman, is carrying out his duties in a diligent way. That is why it is so important to have an offence for the stalking of police.
It is also the case that people who go out of their way to obtain information about a policeman who has, for example, arrested, detained or questioned them should know that the law will come down upon them extremely heavily if they determine that they should find out information about that policeman to try perhaps to influence an outcome. That is why it is so important, but the government simply has not addressed it, that the issue of stalking police and obtaining information about police is addressed in law. I do commend Mr Stefaniak’s bill, which goes at least some way towards addressing those sorts of measures.
I will now talk about the impact of weak sentencing on police. Police officers will lose confidence if, having arrested or detained people and then prepared cases for court, they see that weak sentencing means that those people are simply not deterred from reoffending. The feedback that I have had continually from police over the last four years, both police in the ranks simply approaching me and the AFPA, is that the police do not have confidence that our courts are backing up the work that they do.
It is the responsibility of government to ensure that our sentences are strong enough that the courts are indeed able to apply appropriate measures to ensure that people are deterred from reoffending. The police get sick and tired of rearresting the same sorts of people because those people simply have not been sentenced adequately in the first place. It is not a confidence booster for our police. They will go out there and risk a limb if they know that at the end of the day there will be a reasonable outcome; they will take that extra risk. They are paid to take risks, but they are not going to be very happy about taking those risks if the courts are not backing them up.
The community also feels deeply concerned with regard to violent crime in the ACT that justice is simply not being seen to be done. Again, I call upon the government to strengthen its sentencing provisions so that a very strong message is being sent that the sorts of violence we are seeing now simply will not be tolerated. Of course, with the new mix of drugs out there, we are seeing cases all the time of behaviour that is somewhat extreme.
The rates of violence might be reasonably steady—the ABS statistics are telling us that violent crime is not necessarily on the increase—but we do hear from the community and from police that extreme behaviour by people committing crimes is a new feature of the community safety landscape; that people, either because of what they are smoking or taking, or because they have no respect for police or authority, simply go the extra yard now in the way that they violently attack police or each other. Those issues need to be looked at.
I wish to pick up on a comment made by the Greens in their contribution to this debate. I notice that Dr Foskey talked about the values of the respective parties in this house, as demonstrated in this debate. She was appalled by Mr Stefaniak’s expression of the values