Two Northern Territory Police officers have allegedly been spat on by an Alice Springs teenager after being arrested, spurring the NT Police association to call for mandatory minimum sentencing for anyone found assaulting police and emergency workers.
The latest “disturbing attack” on emergency personnel was allegedly carried out by a 17-year-old male who allegedly turned aggressive toward the police officers when they responded to a reported disturbance in a residential area in Alice Springs at around 8:00 pm last night, NT Police said.
Details around the original complaint were not provided but police said the teenager was placed in protective custody and was taken to the Alice Springs Watch House where he allegedly spat in the two officer’s faces.
Acting Commander Brett Prowse said police should not accept the “filthy habit of being spat on”.
“I am at a loss to explain how any individual could think it was acceptable to intentionally spit on one of our police officers or any other frontline worker for that matter,” he said.
The teenager has been charged with two counts of assaulting a member of the police force and one count of criminal damage.
NTPA president Paul McCue called for the urgent introduction of mandatory minimum sentencing for offenders found guilty of assaulting police following that case as well as two other separate incidents in Darwin and Tennant Creek in the past week.
“Our members are fed up with the kicking, punching, biting and spitting they are subjected to on an almost
daily basis,” he said. “There is a section of the community that still doesn’t get it: hands off our police.
“In the 2018-19 financial year, 200 police officers were assaulted across the Territory. While this is down on the
previous year (260), the five-year average of 245 assaults annually is despicable.”
Mr McCue said the NTPA wants to see a minimum sentence of three months for a first offence and six months for a second, “whether or not physical harm is caused”.
“These law changes are urgently needed so the judiciary can send a strong message to would-be offenders: if
you attack a cop, you will go to prison,” Mr McCue said.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner announced two months ago that anyone found spitting on a worker in the NT to induce fear around coronavirus would be slapped with an on-the-spot fine of $5495. No figures have been released about whether that fine has ever been issued.