Those who attack police, paramedics, nurses and other blue light workers will face tougher sentences thanks to a new law which takes effect from Tuesday 13 November.
The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act creates a new aggravated offence of an assault against a member of the emergency services and doubles the maximum sentence for these cowardly and despicable acts from six to 12 months.
The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) welcomes the enhanced protections for blue light workers, which we have worked hard to achieve as part of our ‘Protect the Protectors’ campaign, while recognising there is still work to do.
Mark Jones, General Secretary of the North Wales Police Federation said: “The Police Federation has campaigned tirelessly to ensure that our policing colleagues, and those from the wider emergency services family, are better protected in law when it comes to being assaulted whilst on the job.
“It is a national disgrace that attacks on emergency service workers continue to rise and become more prevalent so it is critical that there are strong and robust sentences given to those who violently assault our colleagues.
“Nobody should go to work to be assaulted and any attack on an emergency service worker should be seen as an attack on society as a whole.
“We will now be carefully watching to make sure that this new legislation is imposed at every opportunity and that those responsible for attacks should face significant consequences. The justice system now has to put its money where its mouth is and ‘Protect the Protectors’.”
PFEW’s Protect the Protectors campaign was launched at Parliament in February 2017 in connection with a Ten-Minute-Rule Bill introduced by Halifax MP Holly Lynch. She had joined PC Craig Gallant on patrol in West Yorkshire in summer 2016 and had dialled 999 after witnessing the single-crewed officer being surrounded by a hostile crowd.
The General Election brought the Bill to a premature end, but Labour MP for Rhondda, Chris Bryant, picked up the baton. His Private Members Bill received cross party support from MPs and the Lords to become law. The campaign also benefitted from the backing of the Prisoner Officers’ Association and British Transport Police Federation as partners.
Last year there were 26,000 assaults on police officers and over 17,000 against NHS staff. Assaults on prison officers are up 70% along with an 18% increase in attacks on firefighters. This is not and should never be regarded as part of the job.
Chris Bryant MP said: “The growing tide of attacks on emergency workers – including ambulance workers, NHS staff, fire officers, prison officers and police – is a national scandal. All too often attackers get away with little more than a slap on the wrist. I hope this new law will help put a stop to that attitude. An attack on an emergency worker is an attack on all of us and attackers should face the full force of the law.”
PFEW hopes the new legislation will act as a deterrent and provide the justice for our officers, paramedics, firefighters and other public servants. It sends a clear message that assaults against our public servants are wholly unacceptable and an attack on society itself.