A growing group of anti-maskers have been “baiting” and antagonising Victorian police, and in one instance smashed the head of a female officer into concrete until she was concussed, authorities say.
Police said two female police officers approached a 38-year-old woman, who was not wearing a face covering, in the Frankston area on Monday night.
After questioning the woman about why she was not wearing one, police allege she pushed one officer and struck the other in the head.
“After a confrontation and being assaulted by that woman, those police officers went to ground and there was a scuffle,” Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said.
“During that scuffle, this 38-year-old woman smashed the head of the [26-year-old] policewoman several times into a concrete area on the ground.”
Police said the constable was taken to Frankston Hospital with “significant head injuries”.
The woman’s alleged assault left the young police officer with a concussion and a missing clump of hair, Police Association of Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt said.
“The offender had a clump of our member’s hair in her hands and said to our member ‘what’s it like to have your hair in my hands’ or words to that effect,” he said.
“That’s just horrible conduct — it’s not human-like to be quite honest.”
Police have charged the alleged attacker with nine offences, including two counts of assaulting an emergency worker and one count of recklessly causing injury.
She had no previous criminal history and was granted bail to appear before the Frankston Magistrates’ Court on March 31, 2021.
Details of the alleged attack were revealed as Victoria announced there would be more police and Army resources and new fines targeting people who did not self-isolate when directed.
A new $4,659 on-the-spot fine will apply for people who breach self-isolation orders, but “particularly selfish behaviour” and repeated breaches can now attract a $20,000 penalty, Premier Daniel Andrews said.
An additional 250 police officers will also join the roughly 1,500 personnel who are already working on enforcing restrictions around Victoria.
Mr Gatt said he did not know why the 38-year-old’s alleged response to being questioned was so strong.
But he said it was just one example of people refusing to comply with restrictions and antagonising police.
“This was a particularly violent occurrence but our members have been stood up by smartarses around the state for five minutes of fame in front of a camera,” he said.
“Frontline police and emergency service workers shouldn’t have to go through this.
“We should be holding them in the highest of regards and supporting them as they keep us safe — not dragging them to the ground and smashing their head into the concrete.”
Chief Commissioner Patton said in the past week police had seen a trend of people calling themselves “sovereign citizens” who “don’t think the law applies to them”.
“We’ve seen them at checkpoints baiting police, not providing a name and address,” he said.
“On at least four occasions in the last week, we’ve had to smash the windows of cars and pull people out to provide details because they weren’t adhering to the Chief Health Officer’s guidelines, they weren’t providing their name and address.”
Commissioner Patton said the groups were small “but nonetheless concerning”.
“People have to absolutely understand there are consequences for your actions and if you’re not doing the right thing, we will not hesitate to issue infringements, to arrest you, to detain you where it’s appropriate,” he said.
“It’s not something we want to be doing, but it is what we will do and it has been occurring in the past week.”
The Premier said the attack on the officer in Frankston was “fundamentally disgusting”
“Police are out there, putting themselves in harm’s way, they run towards the danger when the rest of us wouldn’t.”
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