Victoria Police Fear for Safety With Criminals Emboldened By Pursuits Policy

A spate of violent attacks against Victoria’s police has fuelled concerns that young criminals are increasingly targeting officers and exploiting policies introduced to protect the public.

It appears criminals have been emboldened to strike at officers since the force scrapped police pursuits, with the union imploring command to explore solutions such as helicopters to monitor stolen cars and make sure offenders don’t get a “free hit”.

The increase in ice-fuelled crime, illegal firearms and now a series of direct threats to officers through shootings or hit and runs has put enormous pressure on the force, already exacerbated by heightened threats of terrorism.

In the most recent incident, the driver of a stolen ute made a U-turn to drive back towards a police car and fired a shot at the officers inside, who were unable to pursue them.

Concerns about the pursuit policy are magnified by the apparent ease that criminals have obtaining illegal firearms, resulting in the force establishing a specialised team within the anti-gang Purana taskforce earlier this month.

The shooting at police on Thursday came less than four months after an officer was shot in the head during an intercept in Moonee Ponds. It follows the charging of Jade Earl for hitting an officer with her car at Highpoint on Monday, an officer being run down on EastLink last Wednesday and another officer being swiped by a stolen car in Fawkner.

A central pillar in the Police Association’s campaign for increased pay and penalty rates as part of ongoing Enterprise Bargaining Agreement negotiations is the inherent dangers of working as a police officer.

While the Police Association backed the scrapping of police pursuits, secretary Ron Iddles conceded that some members felt the policy put them at risk.

Read more in The Age.

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