Victims of Crime Commissioner Fiona McCormack said:
I welcome the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s (VLRC) supplementary report (External link) on sexual offences relating to ‘grab and drag’ conduct and its overarching finding that the law should clearly recognise this conduct and treat it more seriously than it does now.
‘Grab and drag’ conduct is violent and shocking. The impacts can be serious and traumatic, especially if the person harmed believes they are about to be subjected to sexual violence.
All Victorians have a right to be and feel safe when they are moving through public and private spaces—whether that be in a park, a CBD laneway, or a suburban street. The fear and harm experienced by victims of this type of assault must be acknowledged by our criminal justice system.
In my submission to VLRC inquiry (External link), I recommended that a new offence be introduced that recognises the inherent harm of ‘grab and drag’ conduct and acknowledges a victim’s increased vulnerability and fear for their safety.
I am pleased that the VLRC report acknowledges many of my concerns and has also agreed that the law needs to clearly label and sanction this conduct.
Changing the law sends a signal to the community that this conduct is serious. I support the VLRC’s key recommendation that the Government introduce an aggravating circumstance for common law assault where the assault would raise an apprehension of imminent sexual assault.
As noted by the VLRC, changing the law would also make sanctioning this type of conduct more consistent and would require the sentencing judge to consider any higher maximum penalty.
I urge the Victorian Government to implement the VLRC’s key recommendation and introduce an aggravating circumstance for common law assault.
The Government can and should send a clear signal that ‘grab and drag’ conduct—conduct that makes Victorians experience such fear as they move around the community—will not be tolerated in Victoria.
Media inquiries or to arrange an interview with the Commissioner contact:
Phone: 0413 274 204