THE Sentencing Advisory Council has recommended against mandatory minimum sentences for assaults on emergency service workers.
In a report released yesterday, the council says mandatory minimum sentences are costly and a "crude policy".
It recommends instead increasing the maximum penalty for the summary office of assaulting a police officer to three years, and setting a maximum penalty for two years for the assault of an emergency service worker.
Attorney-General Brian Wightman said he welcomed the finding against mandatory minimum penalties.
"I would anticipate that this report would form the basis for a strengthening of protections for emergency service workers under Tasmanian law," Mr Wightman said.
The Liberal Party said it would introduce minimum mandatory penalties of six months jail for anyone convicted of assaulting a police officer or emergency service worker. The report says mandatory sentencing risked unjust results, added to the cost in both jail and court time as people were more likely to fight the charges, and inappropriately assumed that people took time to consider the penalty before impulsively assaulting a police officer.
It found that:
Charges for assaulting a police officer had reduced by more than a third in the past five years.
Workcover claims from police who had to miss work due to an assault had almost halved in five years.
With the exception of police, emergency service workers were not more likely to get assaulted than other professionals.
In the Magistrates Court, 14.1per cent of people convicted of assaulting a police officer were jailed immediately, compared with 9.8 per cent of people convicted of common assault.
If a jail term was set, it was no longer for assaulting a police officer than for another assault.
The council recommends the increased penalties be included in the Police Offences Act 1935, which now imposes a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment for assaulting a police officer and does not mention emergency service workers.
Serious assaults against a police officer or emergency service worker would still be covered by the Criminal Code and carry the maximum penalty of 21 years jail.
The council said the increased penalties showed an "express denunciation" of the crimes and was a "more appropriate response than the creation of a new and specific offence for assault on an emergency service worker."