The Liberals have promised the nation's toughest penalties for serious home invasions as their first big-ticket law and order pledge of the election campaign.
A day after the Labor Party made its first anti-crime pitch by promising 500 extra police officers over four years, Premier Colin Barnett made his announcement with top law ministers Michael Mischin and Liza Harvey today.
Mr Barnett promised a re-elected Liberal Government would introduce legislation setting minimum jail terms for adult home invaders committing serious physical or sexual assaults at three-quarters of the current maximums.
This would mean:
An offender convicted of breaking into a house and violently raping someone would face a minimum 15 years’ jail.
An offender convicted of breaking into a house and seriously physically assaulting someone would face a minimum seven years and six months in jail.
An offender convicted of breaking into a house and indecently assaulting someone would face a minimum of three years and nine months’ jail.
A three-year mandatory minimum detention period would also apply to juveniles aged 16 and above who committed serious physical or sexual violence during a home invasion, Mr Barnett said.
“People are entitled to feel safe in their own homes,” he said.
“We are determined to crack down on those serious and serial offenders who cause untold fear to home owners.
“The community is entitled to see these offenders punished and punished appropriately.”
Mrs Harvey, the Police Minister, said an existing loophole in the current ‘three strikes’ burglary laws would also be closed.
Currently, trips to court to face multiple burglary offences are treated as one ‘strike’.
This would be amended so that for offenders over 16, three burglary offences would mean three strikes.
“Offences will no longer get bundled up in ‘one strike’,” she said.
“We believe this change more accurately reflects community expectations.”
Mrs Harvey said across all levels of adult courts, only 52 per cent of aggravated burglary offences dealt with resulted in prison terms, with an average term of 20 months.
Attorney General Michael Mischin said offenders over 16 convicted under the three strikes legislation face a doubling of the mandatory minimum sentence – from one to two years.
He said the Young Offenders Act would also be amended so that referrals to juvenile justice teams and cautions may be counted as ‘strikes’, along with convictions recorded more than two years before the offence currently before the court.
“We believe these tougher penalties reflect the seriousness of home invasions and community expectations of punishment for such offences,” Mr Mishcin said.