One of the popular pastimes of governments is ‘getting tough’ on crime, something that keeps on keeping on no matter how many times it has been done or talked about before. In most cases it involves enacting a new set of higher penalties for various criminal acts in the hope that it will work this time around.
The new Queensland government is trying its hand at this with a doubling of the penalties for assaulting police, from seven years to fourteen:
The move to get tougher on those who commit serious assaults on police seems to have support from both sides of the bar table, with the police union and local lawyers voicing their approval. In the Ipswich police district alone, there have been 18 cases of serious assault against police officers in the line of duty since July 1, 2011.While in a perfect world police should not be subjected to violence in the discharge of their duties, it is somewhat dubious whether an assault against them should carry more weight than against other members of the public. As such actions have their own classification, it is reasonable to assume that there is already some weighting in this matter. Police already have an advantage in that the perpetrator is almost certain to be caught and prosecuted.
Police Union president Ian Leavers said the proposed changes represented a positive sign from the new government. "This is a great start by Campbell Newman, Jarrod Bleijie and the LNP for protecting all police in Queensland," Mr Leavers said. "While police would have liked a minimum custodial sentencing aspect, I applaud Campbell Newman for taking this tough stance. …
Ipswich criminal defence lawyer Yassar Khan said he would have no problems if the proposed changes were to take effect, but vehemently opposed any move to introduce mandatory sentencing. "I think the police have a very difficult job and that if they are assaulted - particularly if it is a serious assault - that the penalty should reflect the crime," Mr Khan said. …
It is questionable whether 14 years is going to make much difference if seven years is not effective. 7 years is a long time in the slammer, so the fact that it still occurs indicates that the length of the penalty is not a consideration in the decision to assault or not. Perhaps tougher application of current law would help.
Law enforcement in altercations or situations of alcohol or drug fueled violence creates a higher probability danger to the policeman owing to the irrationality of the offenders. In such a case, nobody is giving any thought to the size of the penalty so whether its six months or forty years, it will not deter.
The consumption of alcohol or other substances to excess must never be taken into consideration as mitigating factors. Such consumption is a voluntary act, which should require that any person under the influence of whatever it might be, has to take full responsibility for actions committed under such impairment. If any courts are allowing this, it should be stopped.