The NSW Police Force has released body camera vision of an officer being physically and verbally assaulted following an incident in Hamilton South. This, and similar other attacks, have prompted the NSW Attorney-General to call for a review into the sentencing of police and emergency worker assaults, saying there are “few more disgraceful acts.”
Per Section 60 of the Crimes Act 1900, there are a number of offences relating to police officers in the execution of their duty.
Under subsection (1) it is an offence for a person to assault, throw a missile at, stalk, harass or intimidate a police officer while in the execution of the officer’s duty, although no actual bodily harm is occasioned to the officer.
To be convicted of an offence under section 60(1), it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt that a person:
The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 5 years.
An aggravated form of this offence is contained in section 60(1A), where the above actions are demonstrated during a public disorder.
Convicted felons can be sent a gaol sentence for assaulting a police officer.
The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 7 years.
Where the injury is sustained to a police officer, the penalties are increased. If an action or assault causes actual bodily harm to the Police Officer the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 7 years or, if it occurs during a public disorder, imprisonment for 9 years
If an action or assault causes grievous bodily harm to the Police Officer the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 12 years or, if it occurs during a public disorder, imprisonment for 14 years.
Whilst a slight touch may constitute an ‘assault’, the Police will generally not charge a person unless there is a significant degree of force applied. For example, punching, kicking, pushing or spitting on a Police Officer would constitute an assault.
Examples of offences under this section include:
There are circumstances in which an offence under this section can be made out even if the officer was not on duty at the time. These are:
The NSW Sentencing Council will review the current sentencing guidelines for such offences and recommend reforms, examining recent trends in frontline worker assaults, extending to incidents involving assaults on police officers, correctional staff, youth justice officers, emergency services workers and health workers. In doing so, the Sentencing Council, led by former Royal Commission Chair and NSW Judge of Appeal, the Hon Peter McClellan AM QC, will consider:
Submissions will close on 30 September 2020.