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Police warning on OSH changes

Police warning on OSH changes

The Government’s been warned that proposed changes to the OSH laws could see the Police facing private prosecution for causing stress or trauma to its officers.

Appearing before the Law and Order select committee today, the Police Commissioner confirmed that he had advised the Government that including stress and trauma in the OSH laws would be a challenge for the police.

He told the committee that policing was a stressful job, and that police management couldn’t prevent its staff from suffering some stress or trauma.

National’s police spokesman, Tony Ryall, says the Commissioner's comments show how out of touch the Government is with the impact the OSH changes will have on businesses and organisations, both big and small.

“The police budget should be spent on securing criminals and preventing crime, not on defending law suits or making huge payouts,” says Mr Ryall.

In written advice to the select committee, the Commissioner said that the police will face a number of challenges if the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Bill as introduced is passed into law. Most significantly, he said, it extends the definition of "harm" and "hazard" to confirm they cover stress and trauma.

He said recognising that the disengagement process under the Police Act allows sworn staff to exit on physical and/or psychological grounds, current internal procedures are being reviewed to minimise possible liability issues. He further advised that the Crown Prosecutions (Criminal Liability) Bill - the Cave Creek legislation - also heralds the possibility of private prosecutions against police as an organisation or an employer.

The Commissioner told the Committee that the Government had acknowledged his concerns, but that he was not expecting any changes and he would have to manage the issue.

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