New laws passed to pro­tect emer­gency work­ers

Euroa Gazette - - NEWS -

THE State Gov­ern­ment has passed new laws that crack­down on peo­ple who at­tack and in­jure emer­gency work­ers on duty by mak­ing sure they are given a cus­to­dial sen­tence.

The Jus­tice Leg­is­la­tion Mis­cel­la­neous Amend­ment Bill 2018 was passed in Par­lia­ment last week and makes in­jur­ing an emer­gency worker – in­clud­ing po­lice, paramedics, doc­tors and nurses de­liv­er­ing or sup­port­ing emer­gency care, fire­fight­ers and prison of­fi­cers – a cat­e­gory one offence un­der the Sen­tenc­ing Act 1991.

Un­der these new laws, courts will have to im­pose a cus­to­dial sen­tence and will not be able to sen­tence of­fend­ers to a com­mu­nity cor­rec­tion or­der or other non-cus­to­dial out­come, even af­ter de­ter­min­ing that spe­cial rea­sons ap­ply and that the statu­tory min­i­mum sen­tence should not be im­posed.

Min­is­ter for Po­lice Lisa Neville be­lieves that “this leg­is­la­tion sends the strong­est pos­si­ble mes­sage that its un­ac­cept­able to as­sault and in­jure a po­lice of­fi­cer, and if you do you can ex­pect to go to jail”.

As a re­sult of the gov­ern­ment’s en­gage­ment with emer­gency worker unions, the new laws also pro­vide a very nar­row ex­cep­tion for cases in­volv­ing of­fend­ers with a men­tal or cog­ni­tive im­pair­ment.

The new laws also sig­nif­i­cantly re­strict the spe­cial rea­sons that courts can con­sider – in or­der not to im­pose a statu­tory min­i­mum or a cus­to­dial sen­tence for a cat­e­gory twp offence – by:

can­not rely on im­paired men­tal func­tion­ing where it was caused solely by self-in­duced in­tox­i­ca­tion, by drugs or al­co­hol;

ap­plies to young of­fend­ers, with peo­ple aged 18 to 20 years at the time of their offence no longer able to rely upon their im­ma­tu­rity as a spe­cial rea­son;

tal func­tion­ing is re­lied upon be­cause it will make im­pris­on­ment more risky or bur­den­some, this must be ma­te­ri­ally and sub­stan­tially greater than usual; and

rea­son of ‘sub­stan­tial and com­pelling cir­cum­stances’.

The Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions has also been given new pow­ers to ap­peal any de­ci­sion which in­volved a find­ing of ‘spe­cial rea­sons’ if she con­sid­ers the find­ing re­sulted in an in­ad­e­quate sen­tence.

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