General policy statement
The purpose of this Bill is to ensure that the fact that an offence was committed against a Police officer or prison officer acting in the course of his or her duty is taken into account as an aggravating factor at sentencing.
There has been a significant increase in both the number and rate of assaults on Police officers and prison officers over the past 5 years. Currently, under the Sentencing Act 2002, the fact that an offence is committed against these officers does not constitute an aggravating factor that must be taken into account at sentencing. It is appropriate that an aggravating factor be introduced to recognise the important role of Police officers and prison officers and to denounce offending against them.
The presence of a statutory aggravating factor does not automatically require an increase in the severity of the sentence imposed. The court has to consider a range of factors in deciding the appropriate sentence in a particular case. The inclusion of an aggravating factor denouncing offending against Police officers and prison officers, however, will ensure that the courts take this factor into account and impose appropriate penalties for this type of offending.
Clause by clause analysis
Clause 1 is the Title clause.
Clause 2 is the commencement clause and provides that the Bill will come into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.
Clause 3 states that the Bill amends the Sentencing Act 2002.
Clause 4 amends section 4(1) by inserting a definition of prison officer.
Clause 5 amends section 9(1). Section 9(1) contains a list of aggravating factors that the court must take into account, to the extent that they are applicable, in sentencing or otherwise dealing with an offender. Clause 5 adds a factor to that list, which is that the victim was a constable, or a prison officer, acting in the course of his or her duty.