Mandatory blood tests proposed for people who bite or spit at police and other frontline workers

People who bite, spit at or otherwise expose police, paramedics, prison officers and other frontline workers to a risk of disease could be subject to mandatory testing.

Under proposed legislation announced on Wednesday, a senior officer from the worker's agency will carry out a risk assessment to determine whether a test should be ordered for blood borne viruses such as HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C.

Refusing to comply with a mandatory testing order will be committing an offence, with a maximum penalty of 12 months jail, an $11,000 fine, or both.

Unions representing affected members have been working with the state government on a scheme after several incidents, including a violent assault on a young police officer at Brighton-Le-Sands in April this year.

The Police Association published graphic photos of injuries sustained by the officer, who was allegedly forced to the ground, scratched, had her head bitten and hair pulled after a man charged at her when police attempted to arrest him in a Queen Street unit.


Police used pepper spray and a taser to try and subdue him.

The photos were posted on the association's Facebook page with a message calling for offenders in such cases to be subjected to mandatory testing for infectious diseases.

"When our members are bitten, spat on or exposed to bodily fluids from violent offenders they are subjected to months of testing and medical uncertainty following the attack," the post said.

The new scheme was announced by Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott, Minister for Counter Terrorism and Corrections Anthony Roberts and Attorney General Mark Speakman.

They said the legislation, which would be introduced into Parliament early next year, would "provide peace of mind and lessen the anxiety for frontline workers".

The scheme would also be apply to Youth Justice NSW, Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Rural Fire Service, State Emergency Service, NSW Health, St John Ambulance and the Office of the Sheriff of NSW.

Mr Elliott said our police officers, emergency services personnel and first responders put themselves in harm's way every day, and it was vital to support them as much as possible.

"We want to give as much peace of mind to frontline workers as we can to alleviate the uncertainty they may experience if have been exposed to bodily fluids," he said.

"Our Justice and Health ministers have been working hard on the details of this scheme, with the help of strong advocates like the Police Association and the Public Service Association, so I'm happy to say we are delivering."

Mr Roberts said working with prison inmates was stressful enough without corrections officers worrying about their health after attacks that exposed them to bodily fluids.

"These incidents can be extremely traumatic and stressful for our officers and their families, and mandatory disease testing will provide support," he said.

"We will also ensure they receive prompt medical assessment, treatment and counselling."

Mr Speakman said anyone who refused to comply with a mandatory testing order would be committing an offence.

"We need to provide a real deterrent so people who think it's okay to attack our frontline workers know they will face the full force of the law," he said.

"Courts will have the power to impose on those who refuse to undergo a test a maximum of 12 months imprisonment or an $11,000 fine, or both," Mr Speakman said.

Under the proposed scheme, if either the victim or the person to be tested disagree with the decision of the senior officer, they may appeal within 48 hours to the NSW Chief Health Officer who must make a decision within seven days.

If the individual in question is younger than 16, or subject to a guardianship order, a parent, guardian or Local Court must approve the mandatory disease testing order.