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You could go to jail for assaulting a store employee

Western Australia Police Minister Paul Papalia announces new laws to protect retail workers in the state.

Those who assault retail workers could now face hefty fines and even prison sentences under tough new laws designed to protect workers in the sector.

A new offence of “assaulting retail workers” has been introduced, under which those who attack workers while carrying out their duties can be punished with up to seven years in prison, or three years and a fine of $36,000.

The harsher sentences are significantly higher than his previous sentences of 18 months behind bars and an $18,000 fine.

If the perpetrator of violence is armed or in the company of other people, the penalty increases to a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment.

Repeat offenders accused of repeated petty thefts could also face jail time after the Cook Government’s sentencing reforms scrapped the “fine only” penalty for people convicted of theft or attempted theft if they had two or more convictions for similar offences in the past year.

Instead, serial thieves will face up to two years in prison and $24,000 if prosecuted summarily.

Last year, a nationwide survey of 4,600 members conducted by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) found that reports of physical violence had increased by 56 per cent compared with the previous two years.

Higher penalties for repeat and violent offenders provide an additional safeguard for those who seek to intimidate, harm or exploit retailers and those working in the sector.

Western Australia Police Minister Paul Papalia said retail workers deserved to come to work in a safe environment.

“These regulations have been designed to send a clear message to people who are endangering retail workers, making their lives difficult, and are designed to change that behaviour,” the minister said.

“There are people who claim to know the law, but say that until the law changes, they will not change their behavior.”