Offenders who use motor vehicles to put police and emergency services workers at risk of harm will now face up to 20 years behind bars under tough new laws introduced by the Andrews Labor Government.
Minister for Police Lisa Neville introduced the Bill into Parliament today and said the strong laws would send a clear message that endangering the lives of police and other emergency workers will not be tolerated.
The comprehensive legislation creates three new offences:
• Intentionally exposing an emergency worker, 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 (5 years maximum imprisonment)
The Bill also introduces aggravated versions of intentionally or recklessly exposing police and emergency workers to risk by driving offences.
The aggravated offences will mean jail time must be served if either offence is committed in certain aggravating circumstances such as where the motor vehicle is stolen, where the offender has damaged the emergency services vehicle, or where the offence occurred in connection with another indictable offence.
A statutory two-year minimum jail term will also be imposed if an on-duty police officer or emergency worker is injured by an adult offender who has intentionally exposed the worker to risk by driving.
There will be a presumption against bail for the new offences, putting the onus on alleged offenders to show compelling reasons as to why they should be let back out onto our streets.
There will also be a requirement that every term of imprisonment imposed on a person for these offences be served cumulatively to any other sentences served.
Those found guilty of the above offences will have their licences cancelled and be disqualified from driving. Their vehicles may also be impounded or seized.
These comprehensive reforms have been developed in close consultation with Victoria Police and the Police Association of Victoria.
Further work on other measures to better protect police from harm continues to be progressed through the Police Harm Working Group.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Police Lisa Neville
“Anyone who uses their vehicle as a weapon against our police officers deserves to be locked up – and that’s exactly what these tough new laws will deliver.”
“We have been working closely with Victoria Police and the Police Association to ensure these reforms are informed by experts and are targeted to the real-life scenarios facing police in their line of duty.”
“Emergency service workers spend their lives keeping people safe. These new jail terms send a clear message to those who deliberately harm our frontline workers – this violence and damage will not be tolerated.”