Police Minister David Elliott rejects calls for violent offenders register

Jake McCallum
May 19, 2021 – 6:00AM

A statewide Violent Offender Register that would ban people from pubs and clubs has been decided on by Police Minister David Elliott, as a shock number of police assaults are revealed.

A bold plan to introduce a NSW violent offender list, which would ban people identified as having a propensity for violence from pubs and clubs, has been rejected by Police Minister David Elliott.

The proposal, flagged by government and opposition MPs as part of a parliamentary inquiry, would have seen a register established to identify cop bashers with prior convictions relating to violence and assault against emergency services personnel.

In response to the inquiry into assaults on NSW Police — which saw 15 recommendations including the creation of the register, as well as a “reserve pool” of officers to backfill temporary vacancies — Mr Elliott issued the NSW Government’s support to six proposals.

The Police Minister noted a further seven recommendations and rejected two proposals from the committee, which included former police officer and deputy chair, Seven Hills state Liberal MP Mark Taylor.

NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research data obtained in the inquiry found there was an average of seven assaults on officers across the state reported every day, equating to 2500 reported incidents.

In November, inquiry chair Wendy Tuckerman said the panel heard of a “correlation” between people with previous convictions and “those who assault police officers” before calling on the NSW Government to roll out the NSW Violent Offenders Register.

“The Police Association of NSW told us their analysis showed that between 60 to 67 per cent of those convicted for assault police between January 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019 had prior court appearances in the previous five years,” Ms Tuckerman said.

“A condition of the register could include a suspension from visiting licensed premises or public gatherings for a period of time.

“To be removed from the register, a person would need to attend a program aimed at addressing violent behaviour or provide evidence of behaviour change.”

But the Police Minister said the government would not support the proposal, as existing systems already warned police about violent behaviour.

“Police are provided with relevant and timely information through the COPS database via intelligence and warnings provided in the system,” he said.

“A range of platforms are readily available and well used at operational level to meet the need for appropriate information to prepare police for situations they are about to enter into, including those involving violent offenders.

“The report also suggests that a violent offenders register could be used to ban people from licensed premises — existing liquor licensing regulations already contain provisions to manage violence at licenced premises, including, in certain precincts, banning those who have engaged in violent behaviour.”

Mr Elliott supported calls for a review into the “adequacy of the current assistance provided to police officers who have been assaulted”.

He told the panel Peer Support Officers, Physical Training Instructors, and a new Mental Health Wellbeing Strategy had been implemented to ensure officers were aware of the support services available.

Meanwhile, there are calls for the NSW Police Force to investigate a period of “service learning” for new recruits before starting duties on patrol.

“Despite training to prepare police officers for the different scenarios they may face, the nature of policing means officers will be confronted with uncertain and difficult situations involving hostility, disrespect and sometimes violence,” Ms Tuckerman said in her findings.

“We heard that this can be particularly challenging for younger, inexperienced recruits.”

But Mr Elliott said the Associate Degree in Police Practice was unable to be modified to include “service learning” as it is a formal academic qualification.

Mr Elliott supported calls for the NSW Police Force to consider resilience training for new recruits to prepare them for hostile or challenging real life scenarios, an increase in the current mental health training provided to officers and an evaluation of the current training in communication skills and de-escalation strategies to assess whether improvements are required to deliver best practice training.

The Minister also issued support for a review of the current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural awareness training to ensure best practice training is being provided.

NewsLocal understands the minister’s decision, including the rejection of the violent offenders’ register, was based on NSW Police Force recommendations.

Shadow Prevention of Domestic Violence spokeswoman Trish Doyle said the violent offenders’ register could be a “lifesaving measure for potential victims of domestic abuse”.

“We need a violent offenders register,” she said.


Categories: ALL POSTS