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Tuesday 1 March 2022

Amid a new report that last year one-quarter of assaulted WA police officers were spat on, and ahead of this week’s easing of WA’s border that’s likely to see COVID-19 cases soar, the WA Police Union is calling for the state’s justice system to impose tougher penalties on offenders who spit on its members.

According to 2021 WA Police Force data the WA Police Union has collated, 25.2% of WA police officers assaulted last year suffered a foreign body injury, nearly all being saliva. Of those injuries, 55.1% were directed at the faces or heads of officers.

“We’re spitting chips about the soft penalties for offenders who commit the vile act of spitting on our members,” said Mick Kelly, President of the WA Police Union.

“In 2020, we lobbied successfully for the McGowan Government to make urgent amendments to the Criminal Code, expeditious changes that included sentences of up to 10 years in jail for persons convicted of assaulting frontline workers where they have COVID-19 or create a belief, suspicion or fear they have COVID-19.

“But those amendments are only for the life of the pandemic, and the act of spitting doesn’t trigger the mandatory sentencing provisions associated with WA’s Assault Public Officer offence because it doesn’t satisfy the test of causing bodily harm.

“In the eyes of the law, spitting on an officer is viewed in the same light as pushing an officer and subject to the same lenient sanctions, both during and after the pandemic. Our members aren’t punching bags, and they certainly aren’t spittoons.

“With our borders coming down and our COVID-19 cases going up, there’s a sharp increase in the need to deter offenders from committing the degrading, despicable, detestable act of spitting on our members, an act that’s become commonplace.”

Established in 1912, our membership consists of more than 7,000 police officers, police auxiliary officers and police cadets from all over the world’s largest single police jurisdiction, which covers more than 2.5 million square kilometres. We act as a passionate advocate, lobbying for better conditions and protections on behalf of our members to whom we provide services. We believe there’s strength in unity.

Mark Worwood on 0479 187 970 or media@wapu.org.au.