The hot spots where police face the most danger in Victoria

Published by the Herald Sun on August 18

Melbourne, Dandenong and Latrobe were the most dangerous areas for frontline police and protective service officers over the past 12 months.

Hundreds of members in each area were abused, spat on, punched, kicked or rammed, prompting calls for Victorians to remember that police are people too.

First Constable Ashley Hall, 29, was left shaken after being punched by a man during an arrest in Dandenong in March.

“I never expected I would be hit in the face as a police officer, but particularly as a female,” she said.

“It put hesitation in my mind for the next few jobs that I went to, wondering how it was going to end and if this sort of thing was going to happen again.”

The officer, who has worked in Dandenong and Sunshine over the past three years, wants Victorians to stop and think before lashing out.

“We take off this uniform and we go home and we have family and friends and pets, just like everybody else,” she said.

“We go to work and we expect to come home safely. People need to look beyond the uniform and see the person wearing it.”

In Melbourne, 231 violent or threatening incidents against police were recorded in the 12 months to July 19, while 118 were recorded in Dandenong and 112 in Latrobe.

More than 100 offences were laid in Frankston and another 96 in both Geelong and Port Phillip.

While most Victorians had the “utmost respect” for members, the group doing the wrong thing had a big impact.

“There is a minority that has a total disregard for law enforcement and unfortunately that’s playing out in violent confrontations,” Southern Region Assistant Commissioner Bob Hill said.

“The attitude towards police by some elements of our society has deteriorated over my 40-year career.

“There’s an increasing level of hostility, which is a significant concern for our organisation.”

The Herald Sun launched the Respect the Badge campaign in May to highlight the disturbing trend.

Some members have been so injured, physically and mentally, they have had to step away from the force entirely.

Police Association Secretary Wayne Gatt said the numbers were shocking because each represented a life changed and damaged.

“We get to hear the story about what happened to them on what day but then we also get to hear about the impact it has on their career and on their personal life,” he said.

“Over years of putting on the uniform, you can start to take for granted your safety. The incident becomes a sobering reminder of the risk you face every day.”

The Andrews Government introduced legislation last September that required courts to jail offenders who assault emergency workers for a mandatory minimum of six months.

“If you injure a police officer or emergency service worker, you can expect to go to jail,” Police and Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said.

PSAs with the highest numbers of offences recorded:

1. Melbourne — 231 offences

2. Dandenong — 118 offences

3. Latrobe — 112 offences

4. Frankston — 102 offences

5. Geelong — 96 offences

5. Port Phillip — 96 offences

Offences included in the statistics:

Assault police

Assault PSO

Threaten to assault police

Threaten to assault PSO

Summary offences for above