The Bill makes it an aggravating factor to assault or sexually assault a police officer or any other member of the emergency services, punishable by up to 12 months in prison, double the existing six-month maximum sentence for common assault. While we would like to see the maximum sentence raised further, we are pleased that the Bill sends a clear signal that assaults against blue light responders will not be tolerated.
The bill also allows judges to increase terms given to people committed for a range of other crimes where the involvement of emergency services was an “aggravating factor”.
Mark Jones, North Wales Police Federation Branch Secretary said: “Today is an encouraging and significant day on the journey to better protect our emergency service workers. For a long time the Police Federation has been campaigning tirelessly that there should be tougher sentences for those who choose to violently attack those whose job it is to protect others. I continue to repeat that an attack on an emergency service worker is an attack on society as a whole and will never, ever be acceptable.
“We now need to see the Courts utilising this new legislation to the maximum effect so that a strong, clear message is sent that we must ‘Protect the Protectors’ and we will be holding the Courts to account should they fail our dedicated and hard-working frontline workers.
“The Police Federation will continue to put pressure on those with responsibility to ensure our members are adequately equipped, trained and in position to protect our communities but, importantly, protect themselves when under attack.”
Home Office figures show there were more than 26,000 assaults against police officers (including British Transport Police) in England and Wales during 2017/18. However the Police Federation believes the true figure to be significantly higher, due to under-reporting.
The measures will come into force in November.