8 Feb 2011

Law change for police assaults imperative, says minister

9:32 am on 8 February 2011

The Police Minister says tougher penalties for assaulting police officers must be pushed through Parliament.

Judith Collins' comments come after two separate attacks in Dunedin over the weekend, which Ms Collins is describing as gutless acts.

The Sentencing Aggravated Factors Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament by Justice Minister Simon Power last October.

It would require judges to consider tougher penalties for attacks on both police and corrections staff at the time of sentencing.

Ms Collins promised the legislation a year ago and is defending the time it is taking to make the change.

The bill is yet to have its first reading but Ms Collins says it takes time to get legislation just right.

She told Morning Report there is nothing to stop judges right now taking the occupation of the victim into account but the law change will make that mandatory.

Ms Collins says it is imperative the change becomes law however no law will stop offenders acting violently.

The Police Association says while the change will provide a big deterrent, hard questions must also be asked about recruiting practices and front-line staffing levels.

Last year 46% of all constabulary staff were assaulted and 21%were injured.