Nobody wants anyone, especially public servants performing their duties, being assaulted in any form but the State Government of WA is seeking to amend laws to consider Youth Custodial Officers (YCO’s) as part of the group of ‘Public Officers’ where assaulting one could land you in prison. Fortunately, the period of time being considered for juveniles is 3 months as a minimum.
The laws are currently constructed around the premise that if you assault a Public Officer (e.g. police, ambulance officers, transit guards, court security officers, prison officers) in the course of their duties AND the assault causes bodily harm or worse then you will be imprisoned for a minimum of 6 months. These laws allow the Courts no flexibility for sentencing and there have been circumstances where, for example, I have seen a Magistrate find as a matter of fact that an Officer has provoked an Offender but nevertheless has had to impose the minimum period.
These are unfortunate laws and the fact a juvenile may be imprisoned, regardless of the circumstances and the views expressed by the judiciary, smack of Draconian measures. The Government and media state that this is justified by the recent incident at Banksia Hill Detention Centre on 20 January 2013 where the riot caused significant damage however it should be noted there were no reports of significant injuries to any of the YCO’s. Therefore even if this law were in force at the time of the incident it is unlikely anyone would have been charged making it nothing more than a publicity stunt about suggesting they are doing something about crime.