The Opposition has backed calls for urgent legislation to create a specific offence for criminals who deliberately ram police vehicles following yet another dangerous incident this week.
Shadow Minister for Justice Tjorn Sibma said in the last month, there were at least three instances where police cars have been deliberately rammed by violent offenders.
Two police officers were hospitalised after a stolen car rammed their vehicle in Kununurra on Thursday.
It followed a similar incident in Lake Clifton in the State’s South on January 29 when two other officers were also taken to hospital with injuries after their police car was rammed.
“A vehicle is a dangerous weapon, and if it is used to ram police then the intent to do harm to those officers who are trying to protect our community is clear,” Mr Sibma said.
“If an offender uses a vehicle to deliberately ram a police car, they should be locked up.”
Other jurisdictions including Victoria and the ACT have already introduced specific ramming a police vehicle offence in their statute books, but the WA government is dragging its feet.
“Victoria led the country back in 2017 introducing new specific offences, including the offence of ramming a police vehicle and offences of exposing police and other emergency workers to risk by driving using a stolen vehicle as the weapon.”
“However, despite the increased frequency of offenders ramming police vehicles, the McGowan Government refuses to prioritise police officer safety by supporting legislative amendments.”
“Why won’t this government prioritise the safety of those charged with keep the community safe?”
In February 2021, the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council released its report Use of a stolen motor vehicle as a weapon which recommended that States follow the lead of Victoria and the ACT to include a specific offence for ramming a Police vehicle.
Yet twelve months on, and many damaged police cars and injured officers later, the McGowan Government still refuses to commit to these basic laws.
“We should not have to wait for a fatality before the Government takes action,” Mr Sibma said.
“Unfortunately, because deliberately ramming a police car is not a specific offence, there is no way to truly measure how many instances there have been but we do know that at least 15 police vehicles’ were hit by another car last year and 11 officers were injured when their vehicle was struck.”
Shadow Police Minister Peter Collier said the Government’s failure to act on the 2021 NMVTC report was another example of the Government’s failure to support WA Police officers which has led to a record 465 sworn police officers resigning from the force in 2022.
“It is no wonder that WA Police are resigning in record numbers given the Government’s refusal to support basic measure to protect officers,” Mr Collier said.