Abusing police a serious matter

GRAFTON Local Court magistrate David Heilpern’s sanctioning of offensive language used against police is making it harder for them to deal with “idiots and drunks”, the Member for Clarence says.

MP Steve Cansdell said a magistrate’s endorsement of the use of “the c-word” was offensive and should be withdrawn.

Mr Cansdell said abusive and insulting language was only for people who had no imagination, nor talent, to come up with an intelligent response.

He said swearing could be used to harm others emotionally.

“Some people may find swearing’s okay when it’s used to describe objects or accidents, but when it is used with deliberate intent to address a person in a derogatory way and make them feel bad, it is offensive,” Mr Cansdell said.

“I am guilty of swearing but not the real bad ones, not in public, there’s no need for it.

“I vent privately and usually at the TV when I get exasperated because of yet another Labor politician trying to convince me that everything is just rosy but I would never say ‘the c-word’ in public.”

Mr Cansdell said not too long ago a magistrate ruled it was acceptable for civilians to tell police officers to “f--- off”.

The case Mr Cansdell referred to was Police v Dunn heard in Dubbo Local Court in 1999 when Mr Heilpern was the presiding magistrate.

A study into Australian human rights said it was a case of a young indigenous man who came before the court charged with using offensive language to a police officer, having told two officers to “f--- off” when they sought to take into custody a bicycle he was riding.

Heilpern threw out the police case in a decision that had implications for the treatment of offensive language by the courts, as well as highlighting the extent to which the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody were not being implemented in such examples.

Mr Cansdell said it was wrong for the courts to say it was okay to use offensive language at police who were just doing their job, or anyone for that matter.

“Swearing is a significant matter for police and the community when they see their standards slowly but surely being whittled away by decisions like this by the court,” Mr Cansdell said.

“Treating people with respect makes your world a nicer place to live in, whether it’s at home, at school, or out in your community.

“And it’s easy – all you have to do is treat people the way you like to have them treat you.”

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