The debate about sentencing offenders who commit assaults on police officers and other emergency workers is back on with the Hobart Mercury today reporting a brutal assault on a female police constable.

The Police Association and the Tasmanian Liberal Party have both called for tougher sentencing, including mandatory imprisonment, for offenders who commit assaults on emergency workers.  The Liberal Party observes that the Western Australian model of mandatory sentencing for offenders convicted of assaults against emergency workers has reduced assaults against police by one third.  The State government does not support mandatory sentencing, but is planning to introduce legislation later this year that will increase the penalties for assaults on police and other emergency workers.

Assaults on police and emergency workers, who provide an important public benefit and at times expose themselves to personal risk, is rightly a matter of community concern, and the debate around sentencing of offenders raises some quite complex issues.  It appears that this will also be an election issue.

The Tasmanian Sentencing Advisory Council considered the issues in considerable detail following release of a consultation paper in June 2012.  In March 2013 the Sentencing Advisory Council released its final advice to the Attorney-General.

Read the full report, Assaults on Emergency Workers (Final Report No. 2, March 2013) of the Sentencing Advisory Council to get a better understanding about the issues involved.  Also, here is the consultation paper, Assaults on Emergency Workers (Consultation Paper No. 2, June 2012).

The final report and consultation paper can also be found at the Sentencing Advisory Council’s website.