NSW: Harsher Penalties Under Consideration For High-Speed Pursuit Offenders Photo:

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Mike Stevens | Feb, 24 2010 | 4 Comments

NSW PREMIER Kristina Keneally said this week that she is considering introducing harsher penalties for high-speed pursuit offenders.

Under current laws, drivers who fail to stop for police face a maximum jail sentence of 12 months. Ms Keneally said that a more powerful deterrent is needed. If enacted, the new laws could see offenders jailed for three to five years, regardless of the pursuit's outcome or whether anyone is hurt.

NSW Attorney General John Hatzistergos said the law would be similar to existing legislation in Queensland and South Australia.

"The evidence that we have is that it certainly has been effective in other jurisdictions - there's been drop off, particularly in Queensland in recent times, quite a significant one, and whether it's due to that law or a greater awareness of road safety is difficult to be able to judge," Mr Hatzistergos told the ABC.

"But in any event, the most recent statistics show there has been a significant drop off there."

The news comes after a New Year's Eve chase saw two-year-old Skye Sassine killed when two alleged robbers collided with the back of her family's car during a police pursuit in Ingleburn.

Ms Keneally said the new legislation would be known as Skye's law, in recognition of her passing.

In response to claims that the new laws would do nothing to deter offenders, New South Wales Police Association President Scott Weber said that simply banning police from pursuing offenders on the road would be unreasonable.

"Being a serving police officer and being out on the road there for 15 years and speaking to the highway patrol officers that go day in, day out, trying to enforce our traffic laws, they know as soon as you do that, and there's no punishment in regards to speeding away from police, or to committing a minor speeding offence, or going through a red light, it's just open slather," he said.

Ms Keneally will introduce the laws to parliament this month. Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell said the coalition will back the changes when introduced.

"Today's announcement is welcome," Mr O'Farrell told AAP.

"It's worth reminding people that this proposal originated with a former highway patrolman in (opposition police spokesman) Mike Gallacher," he said.

"Frankly, the acceptance of Mike Gallacher's idea today is state politics as it ought to work."

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