The West

Police are searching for a man who threatened and assaulted staff before stealing a backpack full of alcohol at Liquorland in Beldon yesterday afternoon.
Police are searching for a man who threatened and assaulted staff before stealing a backpack full of alcohol at Liquorland in Beldon yesterday afternoon.

Offenders who seriously assault police will no longer be able to avoid serving their full minimum mandatory jail terms by being released on parole under changes to sentencing laws that come into effect next week.

The Government has conceded that more work needs to be done to stop serious assaults on officers and the deterrent effect of the mandatory sentencing regime "is perhaps not as great" as it would like.

The WA Police Union, which has applauded the parole changes which passed Parliament this week, is also calling for another public awareness campaign on the mandatory prison sentences for people convicted of serious assaults on officers.

The changes ensure that offenders sentenced to compulsory six, nine and 12-month jail terms for serious assaults on police and other public officers will have to serve the full mandatory minimum part of their sentence before being eligible for parole.

The changes came after the case of Sarah Blanchette, who was released four months into a nine-month jail term for a police assault which attracted a mandatory minimum of six months.

Attorney-General Michael Mischin said the amendments protected the integrity of the legislation and would ensure the laws operated as intended.

Police Minister Liza Harvey said there was overwhelming community support for the laws and while there was still work to be done, it was clear offenders were being punished appropriately when the offences were proved and there had been big drop in the number of assaults since the laws were introduced.

WA Police Union president George Tilbury said the parole issue had been a "sickening loophole".

"Now that offenders will have to serve their full mandatory terms, this provides the Government with the perfect opportunity to run another public awareness campaign to highlight the serious consequences for assaulting police," Mr Tilbury said.

Shadow attorney-general John Quigley described the changes as "window dressing", saying the initial drop in the number of assaults against police after the laws were introduced had begun to reverse.

The West Australian

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