Growing attacks on police by violent young criminals

Published by the Herald Sun on 14 November 2019

Police are seen as “targets” by violent young criminals who have lost respect for the badge, according to the police union.

Growing disrespect for the force has been described by senior police as a “new paradigm” that must be tackled.

It comes after the Herald Sun on Wednesday revealed a surge in high-harm offending by kids as young as 10 over the past five years.

Assaults on police, emergency workers or authorised officers have boomed since 2014-15. Children aged 10-17 were behind almost 300 such assaults in the year to June — a third more than the year before.

Police Association Secretary Wayne Gatt said some teenage thugs viewed police as a “barrier” they had to overcome to commit crime.

“Many youths simply don’t have any respect for police and they don’t fear the consequences of acting on this disrespect through assault,” he said. “Our members are seen more as targets than figures of authority.

“That’s a worrying combination of factors and one that impacts on the safety of our members every day.”

Concussions, broken bones, cuts and bruises are among the injuries routinely sustained by police on the beat. Mr Gatt said the mental scars of such assaults could be far more profound than an injury.

“The long-term psychological impact is harder to gauge and manifests differently in different people,” Mr Gatt said.

“It’s fair to say that as a member, once you’ve been assaulted you approach every subsequent job you’re called to differently.”

Commander Libby Murphy, of police southern metro region, said declining respect for police was an alarming “new paradigm”.

“It concerns me greatly that our police members are going out there on a day-to-day basis doing a job and not getting the respect they deserve, particularly from youth,” she said. She said the issue would be a challenge to overcome and wouldn’t be achieved by police alone.

“It’s about collective work. I don’t think police can do it in a silo, I don’t think education can do it in a silo, I don’t think the Department of Health and Human Services can do it in a silo,” said Cdr Murphy.

“It is about understanding what drives it, measuring it and coming up with solutions as a team.”