Assault a retail worker, you can now go to jail

Assault a retail worker, you can now go to jail

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WA Police Minister Paul Papalia announcing the new laws to protect WA retail workers.

People who assault retail workers now face hefty fines and even jail under tough new laws to protect workers in the sector.

New ‘assault retail workers’ offence is now in effect, seeing individuals who attack staff in the course of their duties face up to seven years in prison, or three years and a fine of $36,000.

The tougher sentencing options are notably higher than the previous penalties of 18 months behind bars and a fine of $18,000.

If a violent offender is armed or in the company of others, the penalty rises to a maximum 10 years’ imprisonment.

Repeat offenders charged with multiple low level stealing offences also face potential jail time after the Cook Government sentencing reform removed the ‘fine only’ penalty limit for those convicted of stealing, or attempted stealing, when they have two or more prior convictions for similar crimes in the past year.

Serial thieves will instead be subject to a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment and $24,000 when dealt with summarily.

Last year, a national survey by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) of its members, which attracted 4,600 responses, revealed reports of physical violence increased by 56 per cent when compared to two years prior.

The higher penalties for repeat and violent offenders provide additional deterrence for those who look to intimidate, hurt or exploit retailers and those working in the sector.

WA Police Minister Paul Papalia said retail workers deserve to be able to come to work in a safe environment.

“These laws have been designed to send a strong message to people who have been threatening retail workers, making their lives a misery and it designed to change that behaviour,” the Minister said.

“There are some people out there who say they know the law and they say that unless the law changes, they are not going to change their behaviour.”