A three-year sentence imposed on the driver of a stolen car who nearly ran over an off-duty police officer in Northland who tried to stop him would deter others from attacking officers, the Police Association says.

Association president Greg O'Connor described the sentence as one that New Zealanders would expect from the courts for those who targeted police with violence.

Constable Ewen Cumming had to jump out of the way after the driver, Daniel Manuel, ignored his requests to hand himself in and drove the car forward on Dargaville's Victoria St in February.

Manuel, 36, was last week sentenced by the Whangarei District Court to three years in prison after earlier pleading guilty to a number of charges, including assault with a weapon (the stolen car), reckless driving, escaping from lawful custody and receiving stolen property.

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He appeared for sentencing before Judge Robert Ronayne who said the lead offence of assault with a weapon was serious considering the fact that a vehicle was used against a police officer.

The owner of the Honda Calais contacted police after he discovered his car missing.

The police summary of facts stated that the car was seen parked on Victoria St in Dargaville about 10.50am on February 6 this year with Manuel behind the wheel. Another person was with him in the car.

Mr Cumming, who was off duty at the time, was in a local cafe and a check on a police-issued device he had revealed the vehicle was stolen. Mr Cumming then rang 111 for back-up but was advised that none was available. He then approached Manuel and introduced himself as a police officer.

Manuel's passenger queried whether he was on duty and Mr Cumming replied that he was always on duty.

When the officer told Manuel that the vehicle had been stolen, the latter started the car engine. Mr Cumming placed his hand on Manuel's arm and told him that he was under arrest.

When Manuel reversed the car, the officer reached in the window to try and turn the engine off but failed as his hand was batted away. Manuel then drove forward, forcing Mr Cumming to jump out of the way to avoid being run over.

Mr O'Connor said the sentence would hopefully give Manuel time to reflect on his actions.

"Serious assaults on police nationally have risen over 30 per cent since 2009 and the precursor behaviour to a lot of this is the belief in offenders that they can get away with it," he said.

Judge Ronayne sentenced Manuel to three years on the lead charge and two-year concurrent terms on charges of escaping from lawful custody and receiving.

A further two-month sentence was imposed on the charge of reckless driving.