New laws to protect police and emergency workers from violence commence

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Photo: Mdesigns, Pixabay

A legislation to protect police and emergency service workers in Victoria from harm and violence and crack down on offenders who use their cars as weapon has been launched this month.

Minister for Police, Lisa Neville together with Victoria Police and The Police Association to launch the legislation, which will see offenders who put police and emergency service workers at risk facing up to 20 years behind bars.

The new laws were passed in Parliament in 2017.

“Any form of violence towards police or emergency service workers in the line of duty is abhorrent and our tough new laws send a clear message that it will not be tolerated,” said Minister Neville.

“Our police and emergency service workers put their lives on the line to help keep Victorians safe and well – they deserve to be safe at work just like everyone else.

“Anyone who uses their vehicle as a weapon against our police officers deserves to feel the full force of the law – and that’s exactly what these new laws will deliver.”

With the new laws, a range of new offences have been created, including:

  • Intentionally exposing an emergency worker, a custodial officer or a youth justice worker to risk by driving (20 years’ maximum imprisonment)
  • Recklessly exposing an emergency worker, a custodial officer or a youth justice worker to risk by driving (10 years’ maximum imprisonment)
  • Damaging an emergency service vehicle (five years’ maximum imprisonment)
  • Aggravated offences of intentionally or recklessly exposing an emergency worker to risk by driving (20 years’ and 10 years’ maximum imprisonment respectively)

A statutory two-year minimum jail term will be imposed if an on-duty police officer or emergency service worker is injured by an offender who has intentionally exposed the worker to risk by driving.

Under the aggravated offences, offenders cannot be sentenced to a community correction order or other community-based order unless there are special circumstances.

There is a presumption against bail for the new offences, putting the onus on alleged offenders to show compelling reasons why they should be let back out onto the streets.

Those found guilty of the offences will have their licenses cancelled and will be disqualified from driving. Their vehicles will also be impounded or seized.

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