Australian News

NSW police assaults remain steady, union says

A NSW parliamentary inquiry has been told rates of violence against police have remained steady, even as alcohol-fuelled assaults against officers have declined.

A total of 2483 incidents of assault against police officers were recorded last year, compared with a 10-year average of 2436, according to data collected by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.

Even as the rate of incidents has remained relatively steady, the proportion of assaults on officers related to alcohol has declined, from about 70 per cent a decade ago, to less than half of the incidents recorded last year.

Police Association of NSW research officer Dr Kate Linklater told the lower house’s Committee on Law and Safety that Sydney’s lockout laws deserved credit for shrinking the role alcohol played in assaults on police officers.

However, when asked what types of assaults were “taking the place” of booze-fuelled attacks, she said the police union didn’t know.

While there hasn’t been a significant increase in violence against officers, Dr Linklater stressed any such incidents took a huge toll on first responders.

“When we do have significant assaults, and you may have seen the media around them, they’re really bad. And they result in officers being off for a long time with physical injuries,” Dr. Linklater told the inquiry.

Police Association president Tony King said it was “totally wrong” that assaults on police officers remained stable even as society overall became safer.

Mr King also pressed the members present to enact legislation that would allow police to test suspects who had bitten or spat at officers for diseases. A 2017 parliamentary committee inquiry report into violence against first responders recommended such a law.

“We’ve seen the first draft of legislation to come through, and it’s really a toothless tiger,” Mr King said.

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