Media Release – 26 November 2014

Law Society opposes  Sentencing Amendment (Assaults on Police Officers) Bill

Today, Matthew Verney, the President of the Law Society briefed the members of the Legislative Council on the Society’s position in respect of the Sentencing Amendment (Assaults on Police Officers) Bill.

Mr Verney told the MLC’s that Bill is opposed because:-

• It contains mandatory sentencing (minimum 6 month prison sentence) which:-
o Is likely to lead to unjust outcomes
o Will lead to standardised outcomes where the penalty may not be appropriate or proportional to the offence
o Will be seen as a vote of no confidence by the Government in the ability of the Courts to impose penalties that are just in all the circumstances
o Will put more people into prison where they may learn offending behaviour.

• It is unnecessary because:-
o The Courts already impose immediate prison sentences for assaults against police more often than they do for assaults between civilians
o Police statistics show that the number of offences against police have consistently fallen over recent years and have fallen in the last year alone by 19%
o The statistics show that the number of injuries sustained by police in the course of their duties are consistently falling and that the seriousness of those injuries also has continued to fall.

The Law Society rejects the argument that mandatory prison sentences have been shown to work elsewhere. There is no evidence that any fall in the number of assaults of police in WA is due to mandatory sentencing. In fact the fact that the number of assaults has by all account plateaued suggests that the fall was due to the other matters only. Had it been due to mandatory sentencing then the figures would show a sustained decline, which is not the case.

The Law Society urges the Legislative Council to reject this Bill.


Matthew Verney
0438 248 708
26 November 2014