CARJACKINGS and home invasions were the focus of new legislation introduced into state parliament last week.
The Crimes Act 1958 will be amended to create new offences of carjacking, aggravated carjacking, home invasion and aggravated home invasion.
The legislated offences will attract harsher penalties and give police the “laws they need to keep the community safe”.
The legislation, developed in consultation with Victoria Police, will include statutory minimum sentences for aggravated carjacking and aggravated home invasion. And, to combat the rise of youth gangs, the legislation’s show-cause provisions will apply regardless of the age of the offender.
Southern Metro Region 4 Divisional Commander Glenn Weir – who oversees the Mornington Peninsula and Frankston areas – said carjackings were “very rare in our area but any extra tools, such as the presumption against bail for these types of offences, are of value to us”.
The senior policeman said he “appreciates any extra ability provided to us to deal with these types of offences”.
He would not comment on harsher sentences which he said were “matters for the judiciary”.
Carjackings and home invasions have become more common in the southern suburbs over the past two years.
They are often linked to the rise of youth gangs out “missioning” – or breaking into houses at night to steal car keys – or bumping into cars and attacking vehicle owners who hop out to exchange names and addresses, traumatising victims.
The Bail Act 1977 will also be amended to include a presumption against bail for aggravated carjacking, home invasion and aggravated home invasion. This means the accused will need to justify why they should not be remanded.
The new offence of carjacking will carry a maximum penalty of 15 years and aggravated carjacking 25 years. A statutory minimum non-parole period of three years will also apply to aggravated carjacking.
A home invasion conviction will carry a maximum penalty of 25 years and aggravated home invasion a statutory minimum non-parole period of three years.
A home invasion is defined as someone committing a burglary while armed or where there is a person in the house.
To recognise the traumatic effect on victims, the Bill specifically introduces an element of “strict liability” which means it is irrelevant whether the offender knew if there was someone home at the time.
Aggravated home invasion applies where at least three armed offenders commit a burglary where a person is present and the offender knew, or was reckless, as to whether there were people in the home.
Carjacking applies when offenders steal a vehicle using force or threaten to use force. Aggravated carjacking occurs when the person committing the offence has an offensive weapon or causes injury to another person while committing the offence.
Police Minister Lisa Neville said although carjackings and home invasions were happening in small numbers across Victoria “they are appalling crimes which take a huge toll on their victims and impact communities”.
“The community expects that police will have the powers and resources they need to target these criminals – and that’s exactly what we’re giving them.”
First published in the Mornington News – 6 September 2016