THE NSW Police Service has been fined $220,000 for not providing adequate training to two Kempsey police officers killed in a shootout at Crescent Head in 1995.
Senior Constable Peter Addison and Senior Constable Robert Spears, both residents of Port Macquarie, were shot and killed by John McGowan when they went to investigate a domestic violence complaint in the seaside village on the night of Saturday,July 9, 1995.
NSW WorkCover started proceedings, in the NSW Industrial Court, against the NSW Police Service in January 2001.
NSW WorkCover alleged a number of breaches of the Occupational, Health and Safety Act in relation to the deaths of Constables Addison and Spears.
In May of last year Justice Barrie Hungerford found that NSW Police had not provided Constables Spears and Addison with up-to-date training in high-risk situation tactics.
Justice Hungerford described the offence as being ‘extremely serious’ and noted that the officers had not undergone mandatory training in the use and reloading of weapons, use of torches, defensive tactics and communications.
In assessing the penalty, Justice Hungerford said the action taken by the Police Service since that fatal day to develop training programs and its previously clear occupational health and safety record.
“It is not unreasonable to conclude, in light of the clearly dangerous nature of the industry in which the Police Service operates, that the fact it has a clear occupational health and safety record is a weighty factor in its favour...,” Justice Hungerford said in his
“Another relevant subjective consideration is the action taken by the defendant in respect of the Police Service in developing training programs for police officers, including the important program of ammunition training, and its leading role in that respect compared with police forces in other states,” he said.
WorkCover NSW acting general manager Michelle Patterson said “this tragic incident highlights the need for all employers to undertake appropriate risk management and to provide adequate training so that employees are able to carry out their duties”.