Bill for assaults on Police, Corrections officers introduced to Parliament

  • Simon Power
  • Judith Collins
Corrections Justice Police

Justice Minister Simon Power today introduced legislation to make offending against Police and Corrections officers a mandatory aggravating factor at sentencing.

The changes will be contained in the Sentencing (Aggravating Factors) Amendment Bill.

"Under the current Sentencing Act, the fact that an offence has been committed against a law enforcement officer is not an aggravating factor that must be taken into account at sentencing," Mr Power said.

"Though the new aggravating factor does not automatically require an increase in an offender's sentence, I'm confident that explicit legislation denouncing this type of offending will help ensure courts impose tough penalties."

Police and Corrections Minister Judith Collins said the Government wanted to send a clear message that offending against law enforcement officers was unacceptable, after a considerable increase in the number and rate of assaults over the past five years.

Between the 2004-05 year and 2008-09, total assaults on Police increased by 33 per cent, from 1,869 to 2,481, while serious assaults increased by 38 percent, from 298 to 412.

The number of serious assaults on Corrections staff who required hospitalisation or time off work has been tracking down over the past year. However, between 2004-05 and 2008-09 the total number of assaults doubled, from 151 to 304. 

"These figures are of great concern. An attack on a Police or Corrections officer represents an attack on the community and the rule of law," Ms Collins said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice, in consultation with the Police and the Department of Corrections is looking at the adequacy of existing special offences relating to assaults on law enforcement officers and is due to report back to the Government by June next year.

Current special offences include:

  • A maximum of 14 years' imprisonment for using a firearm against any police, traffic, or prison officer.
  • A maximum of three years' imprisonment for the aggravated assault of a constable in the execution of their duty.
  • Provisions under the Summary Offences Act for assaults on a police officer with a maximum penalty of six months' imprisonment.
  • Provisions under the Summary Offences Act for resisting a police officer, prison office, or traffic officer, with a maximum penalty of three months' imprisonment.