Published on Wednesday, 7 July 2021 at 2:45:00 PM

I wasn’t surprised to hear this week that the gates of the Kalgoorlie Police Station had been rammed again. Like many locals, I was surprised to read that a man who had rammed the gates and then smashed a window at the police station and assaulted a police officer was granted bail earlier this month. Whilst all the facts may not have been fully disclosed in the court, on face value most residents would expect such behavior would result in the denial of bail, particularly given the community’s growing concern on assaults on public officials.

Parliament has made it clear in the last two decades that it will not tolerate police officers, ambulance officers and health officials facing violence in their everyday duties, and that the law will protect them. Tempered with that is the fact that governments of all persuasions, while they may talk tough in the lead up to elections, often do the reverse once in power, and try to minimize those incarcerated. Research shows that incarcerating some young people, and putting them alongside hardened criminals, simply makes them better criminals and ruins their life. Most people are understanding enough to support that view.

Opposed to that, and this is where the judiciary should take that into account, is that those who live amongst violence often on a daily basis, particularly when there is a neighbouring house in suburbia, should not have to put up with constant harassment and violence. The jud should always take into account rights of individual, but also the rights of the public they should be protecting. When the message went out that ramming the gates of Kalgoorlie Police Station did not warrant incarceration and had the privilege of bail, I was not surprised to see the offence repeated. This is what magistrates and judges must consider – that the rights of the individual sometimes must be balanced against the rights of the overall public.

The vast majority of our politicians, and almost all of our judiciary live in the metro area, often in suburbs that don’t have the level of antisocial behavior that some in lower socio economic areas live with on a daily basis. That is much the same again here in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, that those making and enforcing the rules don’t have that experience, which is one reason why I believe country magistrates should be made to live in the towns where they work. I am sure that the rights of the individual will always, and should always been considered when making deliberations, but sentencing as a deterrent and as a protection to the community must always be of paramount importance. This repetition of an alleged offence and the treatment of it is a perfect example of what happens when a deterrent is not considered.

As Mayor, I am very proud of the Safer Streets Patrol, dubbed the “purple police”, who do an excellent job not just in their presence but in their firm and conciliatory approach to those often causing problems on our streets. They are a good set of eyes and ears for our police, and have a good relationship with the local constabulary, but also the attitude of preventing offenses and talking irate residents out of situations demonstrates just why the community is so welcoming and proud of these City employees.

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