Page 3711 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 24 August 2011

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In short, the bill makes an assault on a police officer an aggravated offence rather than a simple offence and increases the penalties for those found guilty of this and other offences. I will talk in some detail about the construction of the legislation to address some of the specific concerns that have been raised in previous debates. But first I want to talk about the importance of this legislation and what it means to us as a parliament, to us as a community and to each of us as citizens striving for a safer city.

Mr Speaker, the Canberra Liberals have become increasingly concerned as we see increasingly common reports of assaults on our police officers. I will quote from just some of the media reports we have had to endure to illustrate the need for action. From 31 July, an article titled “Another attack on police”:

A police spokesman said that at about 4.15 am yesterday, members of the ACT Policing city beats team had intervened in a disturbance outside the London Burgers and Beers Cafe Bar in Civic, in which one man was seen punching the window glass of the premises.

“When police approached the group of four people and sought to move them on, the alleged offender an 18-year-old-man from Page, lashed out and punched an officer in the face” … “Although he was then restrained, he remained extremely aggressive, swearing and violently resisting arrest.” Police allege that while the 18-year-old was being held, another member of the group, a 20-year-old woman from Reid, attempted to intervene and kicked the arresting officer.

From an article titled “Another weekend attack on police” on 1 August 2011:

At about 2.15 am on Sunday police had approached a small group of people causing a disturbance outside a nightclub, with one man in the group bleeding heavily from his nose.

But when police approached, the man began acting aggressively towards both police and other members of the public.

When police attempted to arrest the man, he allegedly deliberately spat blood and saliva at the eyes and mouths of two officers before he could be subdued, handcuffed, and taken to the ACT Watch House.

The two officers, one male and one female, have been tested for potential exposure to pathogens from the attack, and will be monitored for ongoing potential health risks.

And this from 24 July 2011 titled “Police won’t cop assaults”:

Police officers in the ACT are being assaulted at a rate of nearly one a week … An ACT police officer was hospitalised and received treatment for injuries, including a suspected broken hand, last Tuesday after allegedly having been grabbed in a headlock and hit repeatedly.

That is the problem we face, but it is nothing compared to the problems our police officers have to face every day and every night out there on the beat or responding to calls for help or coming to the aid of other workers who have witnessed an incident or assault.

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