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ACT promises tougher sentences for attacks on workers

ACT leader David Seymour and deputy leader Brooke van Velden
ACT leader David Seymour Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

The ACT Party is promising to make serious violent crimes that affect workers an aggravating factor in sentencing.

The policy was announced by leader David Seymour and former National MP Parmjeet Parmar, who switched to ACT for the 2023 election, at a Mt Roskill dairy on Thursday.

They said people should be able to do their job without fear.

"Every instance of aggravated robbery in a workplace represents an instance where the worker faces a risk of real harm. Too often, workers on the frontline of an aggravated robbery suffer completely unprovoked assaults, making the prospect of an attack even more distressing," Seymour said.

He said ACT would amend the Sentencing Act 2002 so judges would be required to consider serious violent offences against a worker during the course of their work as an aggravating factor.

The party would also want judges to consider the vulnerability of the worker - like if they were working alone.

Parmar said the party wanted to fix inconsistency in the law which meant there were stronger protections for people in their homes than for people at work.

"A crime carried out against someone in their place of work can be just as traumatising as a home invasion and the effects just as devastating," she said.

The party quoted police statistics showing a 121 percent increase in serious assaults leading to injury between 2017 and 2022.

"Serious violent crime" would use the definition outlined in section 86A of the Sentencing and Parole Reform Act, and "workplace" would use the same definition as WorkSafe for persons conducting a business or undertaking, policy documents showed.