Tougher penalties added to protect Emergency Service Workers

Proposed laws which will be introduced to State Parliament today will see tough penalties imposed on people who spit on or throw biological material at police, corrections officers or other emergency services workers, as well as an increase to the maximum penalty for certain offences involving the assault of police and other emergency service workers.

“Our emergency services workers deserve respect and to feel safe when they are on the front-line. It is completely unacceptable that our emergency workers can be subject to this revolting behaviour in their course of duty,” Attorney-General Chapman said.

“Every day they can expose themselves to immense risk by working to protect and support the community, and these stronger penalties reflect the importance of that work.

“They also are more in line with community expectations and give courts the opportunity to impose penalties that highlight the serious nature of these offences.”

After consultation with the Police Association of South Australia, Public Service Association and Australian Nurses and Midwives Federation; two additions have been made to the legislation announced last month.

The first includes increasing the maximum penalty for certain offences involving the assault of police and other emergency services workers and move to include other emergency services workers.

“As a result, the maximum penalty for an assault causing harm to an emergency services worker would be five years instead of four, and the maximum penalty for unlawfully threatening to harm, recklessly causing harm or committing acts likely to cause harm to an emergency services worker would be eight years instead of seven,” Ms Chapman said.

“Where an offender intentionally causes harm to an emergency services worker, the maximum penalty remains at 13 years, while intentionally causing serious harm will still have a maximum penalty of 25 years.

Secondly, the Bill also makes the protection of emergency services workers a secondary sentencing consideration.

“This means that when a sentence is imposed, the need to protect emergency services workers would be considered by the judge or magistrate in determining the penalty that will be imposed.

“Both of these measures will all help better support our emergency services workers in the course of their important work.”

“The Government remains in talks with all Emergency Service groups, as well as the Police Association of South Australia to ensure all appropriate front-line persons are captured by the new legislation.

“We strongly believe these additional changes to the legislation will go a long way in ensuring those people who assault our emergency service workers are dealt the full force of the law,” Ms Chapman said.