Monday, July 22, 2024

New laws to protect WA retail workers from crime

Significantly increased penalties now apply to violent attackers in Western Australia who target retail workers.

A new ‘assault retail workers’ offence is 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 Western Australian 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.

“Just like other Western Australians, retail workers have every right to feel safe in their workplace,” says WA Police Minister Paul Papalia.

“These tougher penalties send a strong message that violent behaviour towards staff simply doing their job won’t be tolerated.

“WA Police do an incredible job tracking down shoplifters and holding them to account but some serial offenders don’t get the message. Under these new laws, if shoplifters continue to disregard the law they will go to prison.”

The laws were first proposed in February and were welcomed by the Australian Retailer Association (ARA).

“All retail workers, whether they’re a casual in their first job or doing the night shift at the local convenience store, have a right to feel safe at work,” ARA CEO Paul Zahra said at the time.

“No one deserves to be spat on, threatened with weapons, intimidated or harassed for simply doing their job. People who engage in these types of behaviours are committing a crime – it’s a simple as that.”

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