A series of violent attacks on council parking officers in western Sydney has sparked calls for tougher penalties, with council saying the latest incident is symptomatic of an industry-wide problem.
In an assault on April 9, a Liverpool Council ranger was knocked out when he was allegedly punched to the ground by the occupant of a car, requiring surgery for serious facial injuries. Police later arrested a man in relation to the attack and he is due to appear in court again in July.
It follows attacks on four rangers over three days in the Liverpool CBD last October.
The state’s local government peak LGNSW and Liverpool Council have both backed union calls for tougher penalties to bring assaults on council rangers in line with assaults on police officers.
Violence against parking officers is a widespread problem, Liverpool Council’s CEO Kiersten Fishburn told Government News.
“People going about their daily work should not have to fear for their safety, nor should they be subject to abuse for carrying out an important function in our society,” she said.
Ms Fishburn said council has been working with the United Services Union to improve the safety of staff.
USU General Secretary Graeme Kelly says the union wants to see penalties for assaulting council officers increased to match the maximum 14-year-sentence for assaults on police.
“Unfortunately, attacks like these are becoming all too common, with rangers at councils across the state suffering threats, abuse, and even violence while trying to go about their duty. The targeting of parking officers is an industry-wide issue,” he said.
“The NSW Government needs to send a clear message to the community that there is zero tolerance for violence towards council officers, and the best way to do that is to legislate to bring the punishments in line with those for assaulting police.
There have been two recorded incidents of assault at council depot premises in 2018, according to the NSW crime statistic bureau BOCSAR, however the data doesn’t provide details of the occupation of those involved.
NT laws protect emergency workers
The call for tougher penalties in NSW comes after the passing of legislation in the Northern Territory in March that increases penalties for people who assault Fire and Rescue, Emergency Services and St John Ambulance workers.
Under the new laws, the penalty for assaulting an emergency worker will be the same as for assaulting a police officer, Government News reported last month.
Thirty-five ambulance paramedics were assaulted last year, Attorney General Natasha Fyles said.
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